Sheffield Psychiatry Ward Team
Both Jennifer and Edelle studied at Sheffield Hallam University. Generally you need at least grades BBC at A-level. For current entry requirements have a look here: https://www.shu.ac.uk/courses/nursing-and-midwifery/bsc-honours-nursing-mental-health/full-time
They have also both done extra courses on top of their degree – Edelle has studied through the NHS Leadership Academy (via Open University).
After finishing school and college Emma and Gemma studied medicine at the University of Sheffield. You usually have to get good grades at GSCE and A-level – usually three A-levels at grade A as a minimum. Most universities want high grades in at least two science subjects such as Chemistry or Biology, but Universities can vary. These are the current Sheffield University requirements as an example: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/medicine/prospective_ug/applying/entryrequire
Some Universities have outreach programmes for those who want to study Medicine who are from lower income areas or who might be the first to go to University in their family – it is worth checking this out locally as some offer guaranteed interviews or lower grade requirements. Some Universities have postgraduate courses for those that have a degree already, and some will have a “pre-medicine” year where those without science subjects but who otherwise show commitment to medicine can get the science A-levels in the first year before going on to study Medicine.
Gemma has 10 GCSEs and a GNVQ. I have an AS level in Maths and A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and History. As well as an MbChB (a Medical degree) she also studied in medical research for one year obtaining a BMedSci (Bachelor of Medical Sciences) degree.
Emma has 14 GCSEs or equivalent in grades A*-B, and A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and English Literatures (grade As) and an AS level in Psychology. This includes resitting some modules! Emma also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Education (teaching medical students) as well as a Medicine degree.
Jennifer has 11 GCSEs (grades A-D), an AVCE in health and social care, and A-Levels in Psychology and Sociology. She also has an AS level in Biology. She then went on to get a Foundation degree in Nursing, Advance Mental Health Nursing Diploma, a mentorship qualification, a BA Hons in Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care.
Edelle has two BA (Hons) – one in Early Childhood Studies and then one in Nursing Studies – Mental Health. She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Advancing Health and social care Practice and a Certificate in Healthcare Leadership.
The great thing about working in the NHS is the incredible variety of backgrounds, education, interests and skills that people bring!
Before her nurse training Jennifer worked as a barmaid, in a geology soil testing laboratory, and as a care assistant in a care home. Her first nursing job was as a staff nurse in a child and adolescent mental health unit in East London, she then moved to Sheffield and worked as a staff nurse in an acute mental health ward in Rotherham and then as a staff nurse on an adult acute mental health ward in Sheffield. She then became a deputy ward manager.
Edelle started her nursing in 2005 until she became a deputy ward manager in 2015. She has been the ward manager since September 2018.
Emma has had lots of different jobs including working as a cleaner, a support worker and in customer service. During college Gemma worked as a Lifeguard. After University both Emma and Gemma worked as Foundation Year Doctors where they rotated around lots of specialties including A&E, Elderly Medicine, General Practice and some surgical specialties.
We all work for Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.
NHS Health Career Role:
I’m Emma, a doctor working in psychiatry.
About the Team Members:
Our team consists of two nurses and two doctors.
Dr Gemma Page has worked as doctor for 4 years and has been training in Psychiatry for 2 of them. She finds working in mental health to be a very rewarding and interesting job. Gemma also enjoys looking after her rabbits and her dog.
Dr Emma Brooks is also a doctor working in psychiatry. She loves her job! When not working she likes spending time with her animals, board games and video games.
Edelle Offord has been a registered mental health nurse for the past 14 years and works as a ward manager of a psychiatric intensive care unit. The intensive care unit is where people who need more support than a normal ward will be looked after. In her spare time, she likes to cook, spend time with friends and family and go walking with her dog, George.
Jennifer Losing is also a registered mental health nurse and works as a deputy ward manager on an adult acute ward which also has a place of safety suite. A place of safety is where a person is brought to if they are acutely unwell in the community and need to be somewhere safe to be assessed by a psychiatrist. Emma can testify that Jennifer makes amazing cakes!
What we do:
We all work on Psychiatric wards working with mentally unwell adults. The patients we care for all have a serious mental illness and are too unwell to be looked after at home. They have conditions ranging from severe depression to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. Sometimes people are admitted because we don’t know what is causing their illness so we need to observe and assess them. Some people may be too poorly to be able to agree to come into hospital, so they may be admitted under a law that enables mental health workers to admit them to keep themselves and others safe, also known as “Sectioning”. That law is called the Mental Health Act. We also look after patients that are able to agree to be admitted.
As doctors, Emma and Gemma assess people and with guidance from the Consultant might offer medication for their symptoms, or refer them to other members of the team such as psychology or occupational therapy. Doctors work closely with the nursing team on the ward, the ward managers, support workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists and many other professionals to help support patients to become well enough to go home. They also look after the patient’s physical health, such as doing blood tests or arranging scans if people develop an infection or are too unwell to eat and drink properly.
Both Edelle and Jennifer are trained mental health nurses. Jennifer, as a deputy ward manager, works both clinically looking after patients as well as as an assistant manager. Jennifer works on one of three wards in Sheffield for adults aged 18-65 with severe mental health problems.
Edelle, as a ward manager, has overall responsibility for our Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. She manages the staff team and ensures that a high level of care is provided to patients. She also has lots of leadership responsibilities such as managing the ward budget and ensuring that staff are fully trained. She also makes sure that health and safety and infection control standards are set and that staff are working within local and national policies as well as working within the Mental health Act.
Our Typical Days:
It’s fair to say that on an inpatient ward no day is typical!
Emma and Gemma, as with most psychiatry doctors, generally work 9-5 with regular “on-call” shifts in the evenings, overnight and at weekends. During on-call shifts they are available to help lots of wards if there are any emergencies. Edelle generally works 9-5 as ward manager as well. Jennifer and other ward nurses usually work shifts, so they either start work at 7am, 1:30pm or 9pm as well as some weekends, which can be tricky when friends and family are off, but quite nice when she has a day off and everyone else is at work!
The day normally starts with a ‘handover’ which is a brief summary of each patient, including what has happened during the shift, and any plans they have or any important information that needs to be passed on. Once a week the whole team review patients together and relatives can attend and discuss their family member’s care at a longer Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting. Usually the MDT meeting is attended by doctors, nurses, the ward manager, psychologists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and students but there can be many more!
When not in the the MDT meeting, Edelle, as a ward manager, will attend meetings either on or off the ward with regards to the general running of the ward, eg with finance department about budgets, or with senior managers about the number of beds we have available (we are very busy but have to make sure we have beds available for those who need it most). She might also meet with her ward staff to address any issues that might be happening on the ward in order to support them in providing care to patients.
During the day Emma and Gemma, as doctors, conduct assessments of patients when they first come in to hospital. This includes finding out about their family situation and any stress that they have been under. Sometimes patients are suffering from paranoia, so you have to work extra hard to build rapport and trust with them. We then might discuss and begin medication to help with their mental illness and monitor this to make sure patients don’t get side effects – usually with help from the senior doctors. We review our patients regularly to check they are getting better and will work with them to think about what they can do to keep themselves well when they are back at home. We also meet with patients’ relatives to find out more about how we can best help them. We look after the physical health of our patients and often spend time liaising with our colleagues at the General Hospital; patients with mental illness are more likely to suffer from certain physical health conditions so we frequently work together with other specialities. As psychiatry trainees we are lucky to have regular teaching and are constantly learning new things, and there are plenty of opportunities during the working week where we have time to do research, teach medical students or conduct reviews of our practice to make sure we’re the best we can.
Nurses will spend most of the day with patients and their tasks include completing care plans (a plan made collaboratively with the patient about getting them better) and risk assessments. Patients in hospital can have differing levels of leave so we need to be sure they are well enough, and staff will also decide how often to check in on the patient. Nurses also dispense medication, take physical observations, assess patients, help with personal care, and create discharge plans. Nurses offer regular one to one support with patients to give them time to talk about how they are feeling. Jennifer can also often be found teaching student nurses and junior staff members, completing audits, offering support to staff, attending meetings within the Trust, planning the development of the ward, taking the role of the bed manager for the trust, taking patients out into the community, helping someone cook their meals, or even having a game of bingo or a go on the karaoke. Her role is very diverse and one moment she can be doing office work and the next she is helping to calm down someone who is upset, and she thinks this is why she finds it so rewarding. She feels that the team is like a big family, everyone’s opinion is listened to and is respected.
Quick Fire Questions
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
<span style="font-weight: 400">One word we almost all had in common was caring! Members of our team also describe themselves as compassionate, ambitious, driven, fun, open-minded and sporty.</span>
What's your favourite food?
Emma’s favourite food is chocolate – the NHS runs on snacks. Jennifer loves pizza, especially pepperoni and – controversially – pineapple. Edelle loves Thai food and Gemma loves strawberries.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Jennifer wanted to work in a Post Office! (You’ll have to ask her about that one!). Edelle wanted to be a primary school teacher. Emma wanted to be a journalist for a while, and Gemma wanted to be a vet or a doctor, but she also thought about being a policewoman.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Most of us weren’t but Emma did once get in trouble for switching places with her twin sister – it was unnoticed for a few days!
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Jennifer attended a conference at the Royal College of Psychiatrists which she is proud of. Gemma feels proud of being in charge of a whole team managing a patient who was life-threateningly unwell. Emma has enjoyed being able to do an extra qualification in teaching to be able to teach medical students. Edelle says the best thing she has done is get the job she has now as it’s what she aspired to from being a student nurse.
One of the best things about working in mental health is being able to support people when they are at their most vulnerable. We look after people who may have hit proverbial ‘rock bottom’, or who are frightened, alone and distressed. We help people who are having terrifying hallucinations, or feel so worried they can’t leave their house. We help people who might want to harm themselves because they feel so low. We support them through their difficult times and try to get to know them almost as well as they know themselves. In psychiatry, every day is a privilege.
What or who inspired you to do your job?
Edelle saw how much passion her oldest friend has as a nurse which inspired her. Jen says her mum inspired her as she was a ward sister. Gemma was inspired by an orthopaedic surgeon during her work experience. Emma remembers volunteering at a home for people with mental health problems and the staff there inspired and encouraged her.
If you weren't in healthcare, what job would you do?
Emma would probably make cakes or do something crafty. Gemma would be a vet or a policewoman (Jennifer would be a policewoman too, or a teacher). Edelle would love to be a chef.