My job

'I like to bring about change'

Integration lead for homelessness Jane Cook is passionate about providing healthcare for excluded groups and improving the services available to them

Integration lead for homelessness Jane Cook is passionate about providing healthcare for excluded groups and improving the services available to them

What is your job?

I am integration lead for homelessness at Kings Health Partnership, which is a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency team consisting of 20 people who work with homeless people while they are inpatients at Kings College, Guys and St Thomas, and the South London and Maudsley hospitals, focusing on delivering safe discharge to community services. My role is to promote integrated care between acute and community services. The team covers four boroughs that have some of the highest numbers of rough sleepers and hostel dwellers in London. I provide strategic leadership on integrated care, focusing on continuity of care and working closely with the health inclusion team, which provides healthcare to homeless people in the community. I was also recently appointed

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Integration lead for homelessness Jane Cook is passionate about providing healthcare for excluded groups and improving the services available to them

What is your job?

I am integration lead for homelessness at King’s Health Partnership, which is a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency team consisting of 20 people who work with homeless people while they are inpatients at King’s College, Guy’s and St Thomas’, and the South London and Maudsley hospitals, focusing on delivering safe discharge to community services. My role is to promote integrated care between acute and community services. The team covers four boroughs that have some of the highest numbers of rough sleepers and hostel dwellers in London. I provide strategic leadership on integrated care, focusing on continuity of care and working closely with the health inclusion team, which provides healthcare to homeless people in the community. I was also recently appointed as clinical lead for physical health and homelessness for London.

Why did you become a nurse?

I have always wanted to work in healthcare. My first memories were as a three year old in Zambia and being on a children’s ward in a hospital that my dad worked at for an international charity and thinking that I wanted to become a nurse.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There is great diversity. I have provided and delivered healthcare to excluded groups for 31 years including asylum seekers, refugees, undocumented migrants, unaccompanied minors, travellers and gypsies, and single homeless and homeless families in a variety of settings. All these groups experience inequalities and inequity in service delivery. Most individuals, families and communities have complex and multiple needs. I enjoy working within a public health framework to influence change in service delivery and processes. I also like working with clients and communities to bring about change in individual lives, services and communities.

What is your greatest challenge?

Witnessing how changes in policies and laws impact negatively on the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in society, both in the UK and globally. As a nurse, you see the detrimental impact on health when people have no home or are in poverty. As well as working in partnership with many charities, I am also a trustee for some charities that provide services that meet practical needs of clients and fill in gaps that statutory health services cannot meet.

What has given you most satisfaction?

Seeing the changes in people’s lives and seeing innovative services develop that bring positive changes and make a difference in meeting the needs of people, both immediately and in the long term.

What nursing achievement makes you most proud?

Becoming a Queen’s Nurse. I was also very privileged to have nursed both of my parents at the end of their lives. It is at times like that that you realise what good nurse training you had.

What or who inspires you, and why?

My parents, as they worked with excluded groups, individuals and families who often faced massive challenges. I am daily inspired by many nurses and colleagues who have developed innovative services that make a difference in the daily lives of so many people and deliver front-line services. They are committed and compassionate in tackling health inequalities and in promoting equity for people who are excluded.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy seeing family and friends, going on holiday, swimming, reading and listening to music.

What makes a good community or primary care nurse?

Being person and community-centred, so identifying the needs but also the opportunities within the community. Being solution-focused, so seeing what is possible and achievable. Being open and having a vision as to what is achievable, especially by working with the community and with partner agencies.

What is likely to affect nurses working in primary care over the next 12 months?

Increasing demand on service provision and reduced budgets in housing, health and social care, which will prove challenging because it affects homeless people or causes homelessness.

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