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WT Nightingales – Laura McLaughlin - Laura McLaughlin - WT Nightingales

Western Trust Nightingales 2020 Staff Profile: Laura McLaughlin, Mental Health Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team Leader (Tyrone and Fermanagh areas)

Tell us about yourself and your work (eg family, job, length of time in post)

Hello my name is Laura McLaughlin and I am the Band 7 Mental Health Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team Leader covering Tyrone and Fermanagh. I have worked in this role for almost 3 and a half years having been a Band 6 Nurse Practitioner in the team prior to taking up the Team Leader post. I am also a Zumba instructor and have been running zoom classes throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why did you choose this job?

The arena of Crisis Mental Health has always been a passion of mine having worked within various areas of the Crisis Service; Inpatient Acute admissions, Psychiatric Intensive Care, Mental Health Liaison and Crisis Resolution Home Treatment. When my current post was advertised I was ready for a challenge and felt I had the necessary knowledge, skills and experience required for the role and was keen to use these attributes in order to improve the service user experience through the Mental Health Crisis Service.

I know it has been a particularly challenging couple of months for all health care workers due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you explain what has changed in your role? What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

In January 2020 I was seconded out from my substantive post as Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team Leader to the Mental Health Liaison Service pilot in Altnagelvin Hospital. This secondment was put on hold temporarily due to Covid-19 and I returned to work in the Crisis Service. This meant pausing the Liaison project and returning to manage a team of keyworkers in frontline mental health services.

As the Covid-19 situation is ever-changing, as a leader I have had to find possible solutions and have been forced to consider all available resources, particularly my staff team, utilising their collective experience and knowledge whilst adapting and reviewing resolutions as the situation unfolds.

The best part of the job is receiving positive feedback from service users who express thanks to the team for allowing them to experience Crisis Mental Health Services whilst staying in their own home who ordinarily in the absence of the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team would have required inpatient admission to a mental health unit.

The most challenging aspect of the role is the potential for and the occurrence of suicide. This is always an extremely difficult experience for all involved, as a leader it is vital to manage the practical aspects of this process whilst balancing this with the wellbeing of staff and family and/or carers.

This is the Year of the Nurse/Midwife and although many plans to celebrate has been significantly curtailed due to COVID – what makes you proud to be playing your role as a nurse/midwife?

I am proud to be a nurse working in front line Mental Health Services, an area that is sometimes overlooked, maintaining services throughout Covid-19 in order to provide for the needs of service users.

All health care staff have risen to the challenges faced by this global pandemic. Many traditional services have had to be stopped or done in a different way either via telephone or virtual clinics. Have you experienced this in your role and how do you think this has or hasn’t worked?

Other teams and services within the Mental Health Directorate stopped face-to-face contact and instead utilised telephone contact and virtual clinics/appointments. The provision of Crisis Mental Health Services did not change much during the pandemic. The Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team continued with face-to-face crisis assessments and the number of referrals to the service tripled from March-August 2020 in comparison to March-August 2019. The provision of home treatment also continued however as a team we became more creative utilising PPE, screens, social distancing etc.

Management meetings took place over Pexip or videolink which reduced the risk of covid-19 and reduced travel but still allowed for effective communication to continue.

Looking forward to the next year or so – what would you like to see achieved in Health and Social Care?

Ideally it would be great to see all Services back working as per pre Covid-19. Also I would like to see the provision of the Mental Health Liaison Service established within the South West Acute Hospital and Altnagelvin Hospital.

How does your work help in the overall delivery of Health and Social Care services?

The Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team is one of three parts of the Mental Health Crisis Service, the other parts being the male and female inpatient wards and Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit and Rathview House a step up/step down six bedded unit. The Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team is the gateway into Crisis Services and interfaces with a number of different Mental Health Teams to ensure adequate follow up within the community following the crisis stage.

Please also include any particular personal messages of how you, your colleagues have supported each other during this global health crisis.

I have been running free zoom Zumba classes throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We have had staff meetings to discuss Covid-19 and the subsequent impact upon the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team, one-to-one meetings with staff, supervision and access to sources of Psychological support both in the Western Trust and beyond.

What advice would you give to the public on how they can help the NHS deal with the ongoing pandemic in the months ahead?

Listen to the official advice given, take all necessary precautions and be mindful of your own mental health.