Head of nursing at a neurological rehabilitation specialist service provider
Developing leadership skills has always been a priority for Sue Houston
Developing leadership skills has always been a priority for Sue Houston as she has occupied senior roles from early in her career
What is your job?
I am the head of nursing at Christchurch Group. We provide clinically led neurorehabilitation services at eight sites across England to improve the function, reduce symptoms and enhance the well-being of patients with acquired brain injury, spinal injury and other neurological conditions.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am primarily responsible for clinical governance and the coordination and supervision of evidence-based nursing and best practice across the group.
I also oversee care pathways to ensure that patients’ rehabilitation potential is maximised, with the ultimate goal being to discharge them home.
Other duties include ensuring that nurses’ requirements are met and that registered practitioners assess, plan and implement care of patients in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council code of conduct. Additionally, I develop and review policies relating to legal compliance and conduct clinical audits.
I am also undertaking personal research into sepsis in patients with neurological conditions.
Why did you become a nurse?
My mother and grandmother were successful nurses who loved their jobs. Taking care of others is important to me so I’ve always felt at home in the nursing vocation.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love making a difference to our clients’ lives. It’s our priority to deliver life-changing, evidence-based outcomes.
Nothing compares to knowing that 86% of our clients return home after rehabilitation.
How and where have you developed leadership skills?
Developing leadership skills has always been a priority for me as I have occupied senior roles from early in my career.
I have completed several NHS national leadership and management courses to ensure I’m equipped with the skills to lead, inspire and manage teams.
And how does your current job make use of your skills?
As head of nursing, I must educate and support other nurses, as well as liaise with GPs, district nurses and patients’ families.
My background in leadership and management is enormously beneficial for this, as well as my extensive knowledge of the legal framework.
What inspires you?
The opportunity to maximise the recovery and independence of our clients by improving their cognitive, social, emotional, physical and psychological well-being.
There isn’t a word to describe how it feels to see our clients, who couldn’t speak or walk before our care, able to continue with their lives.
What do you do in your free time?
My favourite hobbies are reading, spending time with family and long walks with my husband and our cockapoo puppy, Teddy. We’re hoping he can visit the rehabilitation unit as an unofficial therapy dog!
What achievement makes you most proud?
Qualifying as a staff nurse; without that first step, none of my other promotions would have been possible. I am also privileged to have encountered some amazing patients throughout my 42 years of nursing.
What makes a good nurse leader?
It is essential to take a person-centred approach to management and consider the needs of everyone you work with, from colleagues to patients.
What advice would you like to pass onto students and more junior staff?
The importance of appreciating the practical sides of being a nurse, as well as the academic requirements. You must be compassionate and listen to families, patients and staff. Clear communication is crucial for effective leadership and to deliver the best care to our patients.
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