Do you want to build therapeutic relationships over time, promote service user advocacy and do something different every day? Then Forensic Nursing could be for you!
Our Forensic Mental Health service provides treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare for people who are mentally unwell and who are in the criminal justice system. Our wards specialises in each part of a service user’s recovery and aims to prepare the person for life in the community. Be part of fast paced, supportive teams with great opportunities for professional development and training. If you’re enthusiastic and motivated then we’d love you to hear from you!

We are currently recruiting Forensic Mental Health and Learning Disability Staff Nurse, Band 5, closing 31/12. All information here.

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Meet Sam

sam As well as treating people for their mental health problems, Sam Robinson also assesses her service user’s risk of harm to others as well as to themselves.

My job is really exciting and there’s no typical day, so I like to start my day in the same way by meditating for five minutes. I usually do this in my car before starting my shift. I do this every day, and have done for years, it makes me feel ready to tackle any challenges that might come my way.

The perks of the job is that every day is different, and although you might plan a structured routine, you really are governed by the needs of your services users. I feel it’s better when you don’t know exactly what you are going to do each day. Weekly tasks include reading groups, administering medication, formulating care plans and reading through mental health review tribunal reports.

I also like to work with service users to create new murals to brighten up the ward environment. This sort of activity also helps me to find out more about my service users as we work together to create an eye catching piece of artwork.

Not one service user is the same, despite having similar offences and illnesses, the care would need to be different and tailored around the individual and you have to be creative with their care.

You’ve got to be very open in this job. Open to meeting people who have done things you don’t agree with. You’ve got to have a professional barrier so you don’t judge people.

I want to know the person not their index offences

The team is really varied with nurses, support workers, who have designated roles, team leaders and consultants. Junior doctors and pharmacy staff are also on hand to offer help and advice. Every patient has their own consultant and we have a GP within the unit. 

I like the variety of the job. It’s therapeutic coming into work and I love working with student nurses. It’s quite a demanding job, especially when you first start after your training, but if you are new to the job give it a chance. You need to give it a bit of time before you love it.

Before my nursing training I did a fashion degree and had an internship in London with a modelling agency as a scout, so I have first-hand experience of how some industries can contribute towards mental health problems. This experience made me start to think about nursing and helping people. 

You can’t teach care. It’s about talking to people, letting them in, so they can let you in. Regardless of the secure hospital environment, you are in their home, so you’ve got to respect that.

You need to be open minded about a forensic mental health career, what you think it will be it probably isn’t – in a good way! Every day is different, there will be really hard days, but then you’ll have a really great day that will change your mind about forensic nursing.

Meet Faith

Faith As well as leading a team, Faith Nxumalo works hard to build relationships with her male patients to understand their needs.  

Every working day is different for me, but I always start my mornings in the same way. Up early bathing my children and giving them their breakfast before heading into work.

A forensic acute mental health ward environment is very different to other mental health settings. It can be quiet when your patients are sleeping, but when they are awake relational support is key. Each day is different, you know your patients, but you don’t know what you are going to encounter.

Daily tasks include going through emails, checking medication and running the ward. I’ve learnt that I need to delegate to everyone in the team as I can’t do it all.

Almost all our patients have had previous health service assessment and treatment - many have also had previous contact with the criminal justice system. Most are referred from the criminal justice system but other services can also refer to us when a patient is perceived as posing a risk – often to staff or other patients - which cannot be safely managed in a less secure environment.

Our patients have varying needs. They may present with behavioural problems or emotional concerns and an important part of the work is assessment of risk of harm to others as well as to the patient themselves.

A big part of my work is building relationships. You need to talk to someone to know and understand them. It can be emotionally challenging, but that’s the exciting part of the job.

When you know your patients you can be confident whatever decision you are taking is the right one.

My favourite part of the job is spending time with my patients. I just like being out there talking face to face with people – I love talking to the patients and that’s exactly what works. I like looking after people.

My goal for each day is to do the best job I can. I love structure, but the day will always turn out differently to what you had planned. The most important thing to me is that I come in, do my job and everyone is OK when I go home.

I enjoy my job and I wouldn’t change it. It takes time to get settled into the role, as you are working with people you don’t know, but once you’ve found your feet it’s an environment you can thrive in.

Before the forensic service, I was working on an elderly ward, so I have experience of working with older people who have mental health issues. I also did a placement on a low secure ward where I learnt to look past what people had done to helping them.

Working in a forensic mental health environment requires an open mind. There is great team work. You have to learn how best to work with each other. My manager is really supportive, checks how my day is going and always provides me with advice when I need it. You can’t ask for more than that.

We are currently recruiting Forensic Mental Health and Learning Disability Staff Nurse, Band 5, closing 31/12. All information here.