My job

Senior staff nurse on a general psychiatric, female-only ward

I have always had a genuine and instinctive desire to provide care and support to people, says Risq Animasaun

Senior staff nurse Risq Animasaun reflects on the values needed in mental health nursing   

Risq Animasaun

What is your job?

I work as a senior staff nurse on a general psychiatric, female-only ward at the Nightingale Hospital, a private mental health hospital in London. I may work on any of the other wards too, depending on demand.

What are your main responsibilities?

My work is multifaceted so I have to be able to manage strategically, prioritise and adapt to changing situations. I also have to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with colleagues and other professionals, and liaise with patients’ friends and relatives.

As part of a multidisciplinary team, I must ensure that the ward is safe and running efficiently. This includes providing leadership, supervision and support to junior members of staff.

I also attend meetings to advocate on behalf of patients to protect their rights, privacy and dignity. My patients’ best interest lies at the heart of everything I do.

 Why did you become a nurse?

I have always had a genuine and instinctive desire to provide care and support to people, whether they are family members or friends, or patients or colleagues. My move into nursing was just meant to be.

Apart from being a registered mental health nurse, I have a combined arts and science degree, a postgraduate certificate in health promotion theory and practice, and experience as a healthcare assistant working with older people.

What inspires you?

People who are positive, resourceful, hard-working and who want to make a difference. As a new staff nurse, I had a mentor, Christopher Benjamin, who was always calm and professional. He taught me to come out of my comfort zone and inspired me to go out and make things happen. I now share this approach with my colleagues, nursing students and even patients.

My father always taught me to be open to new adventures and to always try to motivate and encourage other people. They are wise words for everyone to follow.

What do you do in your free time?

I am a columnist for a Nigerian newspaper called Vanguard, where I primarily write about health-related issues. I also comment on a range of other topical stories from my perspective as a British Nigerian.

I also organise and lead a women-only walking group and am committed to supporting my local community in any every way I can. I have always advised others to have a hobby or passion outside work and to remember that doing good ultimately does good.

What achievement makes you most proud?

Being a proud mother of two; my job as a mental health nurse; establishing a barber and hairdressers’ network in south London, which also offers basic counselling to help signpost customers to mental health services; co-authoring the Mind the Gap Report on the provision of black and minority ethnic mental health services in Croydon; and serving as an expert panellist at the London Assembly. I have also worked with a Croydon community theatre group, Know My Mind, to take their play So U Think I’m Crazy? across the UK.

I love working with young people and was delighted to have created an affirmation programme called Who Are You? for the Lewisham Business Consortium’s initiative, Preparing for Adulthood. Nursing has provided me with so many diverse and amazing opportunities to make a difference.

What is likely to affect mental health nurses over the next 12 months?

The rapid reduction in nursing staff numbers, economic and political uncertainty, and the demise of the nationwide standard of living. As we are seeing an increase in the number of people experiencing mental health issues, it is imperative that mental health provision and resources are prioritised.

What advice would you give to students and junior staff?

I follow and share the ‘rule of five’ approach with staff and students:

  1. Get to know everyone in your team – and that means everyone.
  2. Keep a reflective diary and try to write new content every day. Afterwards, when you review what have written, reflect on the value of each and every word. This is great for revalidation.
  3. Ask yourself what was good about your day. Always try to find one special moment you can look back on positively. We might not always recognise the value of the small things we do, but they add up to something great.
  4. ‘Give me five.’ If you are busy and someone wants your attention, tell them to give you five minutes – but make sure you see them in five minutes. These five, precious minutes will buy you enough important thinking and preparation time.
  5. Always document and log information in writing. Writing in real time is invaluable because it prevents miscommunication and misunderstanding.

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