Community mental healthcare: ‘My son felt listened to when he talked to his nurse’
Jodie Heath was nominated for the 2021 Patient's Choice award for her unwavering support of a young patient's complex health needs
The mother of a young man with complex needs has nominated the ‘simply amazing’ community psychiatric nurse Jodie Heath for the 2021 Patient's Choice award, for ‘the way she listens and puts my son at the heart of everything she does’.
Michelle Craggs’ 18-year-old-son has a number of diagnoses, along with autism, but his care has been transformed since Ms Heath, who works at North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust and specialises in psychosis, began coordinating his care.
Continual online and in-person support during the pandemic
Ms Craggs says: ‘Being a parent/carer dealing with multiple care providers, it can be draining and scary and you learn not to trust a system that is so fragmented between health and social care.
‘But Ms Heath has adapted so many things for my son. Listening and understanding is key and for the first time following four separate mental health inpatient admissions, my son felt listened to when he talked to her. He sat on his bed and cried and said: “Mum, they believe me”.’
‘She shows compassion all the time – even when a parent like with me with my diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bounces in’
Michelle Craggs, mother of an 18-year-old with complex health needs
The family appreciate how Ms Heath continued that support during the pandemic and during a recent inpatient stay: ‘She spent many hours talking to him in online meetings and as soon as they could meet up in person she was there for their walks.
‘All the appointments are meaningful and purposeful,’ adds Ms Craggs. ‘She shows compassion all the time – even when a parent like me with my diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bounces in. I was worried that the service would struggle with us and find us difficult to manage. Ms Heath doesn’t because she understands our needs and the stresses of living our life.
Despite the complexity of her son’s care and not having worked with people with autism before, Ms Craggs says nothing has fazed Ms Heath or deterred her from providing excellent support for her son’s complex education and health plans.
‘I trust her and this makes the times when I am drained and I am wondering how I will get through the next day so much easier,’ says Ms Craggs.
Cut through health system red tape
‘She understands the importance of working together and what it means to be a young person in crisis. She will not allow herself to get caught up in the grinding wheels of the system or the red tape that says “We can’t” and she reframes any challenge by asking “How can we make this happen?”
‘For years, many professionals redefined the diagnostic criteria to make my son fit in the box. He wasn’t listened to by many doctors. Ms Heath always has the enthusiasm to adapt and work flexibly to make the early intervention systems and processes work specifically for my son.
‘At last I know he is safe and, most importantly, he also feels safe. My son values the support he has from her and as a parent I know this support helps him so much.’
Her son adds: ‘Ms Heath has helped me so much with being able to talk about my voices in a way I haven’t been allowed before. When I was in hospital she always came to visit me. She talked to me and helped me understand why I was worried about going to see my new college which helped me and made it easier for me to go there. When my voices are really bad and I want to end my life, she talks to me until I feel better. Things are hard. I find every day a struggle, but Ms Heath will listen to me and help me every day if I ask.’
Voting for the Patient’s Choice award is now open. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 12 October.
Meet our other 2021 Patient’s Choice award finalists
Which of our six inspirational nominees will win the Patient’s Choice award? Here are the rest of the finalists:
- Angela Gallagher: Nurse who cared for our daughter with leukaemia is ‘credit to the profession’
- Katie McIlroy: Community nurse looked beyond labels and ’held on to hope when I lost mine’
- Rosily Padayathil and Muzit Ghebreab: Compassionate end of life care: team helped our family copy ‘at worst time of our lives’
- Orna Carey: Recovery from spinal injury: ‘care was the boost I needed on my long journey’
- Paul Murray: Nurse nominated for posthumous award ‘made patients feel special’
Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor
The Patient’s Choice award is sponsored by nursing uniform provider Alexandra