A champion for people with personality disorders: ‘our nurse always puts us first’

How Patient’s Choice nominee Rebecca Betts-Richards supports and inspires mental health service users

Rebecca Betts-Richards (centre) with her nominators: ‘There is still a stigma around personality disorders’

Women at a mental health residential facility have nominated their nurse for the RCNi Patient’s Choice award in recognition of ‘her hard work and kindness’.

Rebecca Betts-Richards, who works for Aspire Health and Care, started working at Chilwell House in Derbyshire in February 2019. ‘It was her birthday and she’s continued to put us first ever since,’ the young women say.

‘We have a nurse who never gives up on us’

‘Rebecca works past her hours nearly every day. If we need to see her five minutes before she is due to leave she will stay. Nothing is too much trouble.’

'Some of us are only 18 years old and we don't have any family. Rebecca arrives every day with a smile on her face. She might be met with miserable ones but she never changes.'

It is not always an easy place to work, they say.

'We make silly decisions and are sometimes not very nice to Rebecca but she never gives up on us. She never panics, never looks stressed no matter what we do and is never mean to us. She doesn't treat us like we are a pain.'

Read about the rest of our Patient’s Choice finalists below, or click here to vote

When Ms Betts-Richards arrived at Chilwell House the manager had left. ‘Lots of us have been in mental health services for a long time and felt stuck,’ say her nominators.

‘Most haven’t had a good role model in our lives or had anyone show us how to figure out who we are.

‘Rebecca is honest with us in a way that doesn’t make us feel bad.

‘We have all faced negativity due to our personality disorder diagnosis but Rebecca treats us like we have a superpower not a disability.

Campaigning for better awareness of personality disorders

‘Rebecca campaigns for better awareness and challenges the negativity we face. She has stuck her neck out to challenge doctors, nurses, police and people who were not supportive. She is working with our local police to train them about the disorder and our GPs so that they can support us better.

‘She tries to understand why we do things…She teaches us to move forward with our lives and make them what we want to be.

‘She shows us that people do care and she encourages and supports us to go to university, college and work. She has also inspired many of us to work with vulnerable people.’

Nomination for the award is overwhelming

Ms Betts-Richards says she is overwhelmed by her clients’ nomination. ‘They are challenging sometimes, but we all are. Some have had chaotic homes and experienced trauma at a young age.

‘There is still a stigma around personality disorders and some of the young women who come to live here have never had their diagnosis explained to them. I am angry at the way people have spoken to them, they are so lovely.’

Voting for the RCNi Patient’s Choice award opens on 17 August and closes at midnight on 11 September. The winner will be announced at a virtual ceremony later this year

Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor

The RCNi Patient’s Choice award is supported by Nursing Standard