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What is a typical day at work for you?

There really isn't a typical day at work for me, that's what makes it so interesting. Depending upon what is happening on the day, I could be at any of the four University sites which deliver our programmes, or at an external event with one of our employer partners, meeting students, teaching or planning; the work is so varied that a typical day at work does not exist.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Without doubt it is being in the privileged position of watching students develop and learn over the time they are at the University to become competent practitioners who are working with people to help them become the best they can be. Privileged because I can say that I have been a part of that journey. I am always amazed by the diverse employment offers which our students get at the end of their course, and love hearing about where they are working now, what their ambitions are and so on. Keeping in touch with alumni is a continuation of that privilege.

Another favourite part is the opportunity to work with such interesting colleagues. Everyone has particular interests and knowledge about a specific area of their work which means that there is always something to talk about and learn. The people who I work with are so passionate about teaching, learning and research. I enjoy being part of new and developing programmes and initiatives which involve collaboration with students, our practice partners and users of services to develop products which are current, relevant and person centred. I also enjoy seeing colleagues who have published work, achieved a particular academic goal or been nominated for a local or national award in recognition of going above and beyond, which so many of them do, in their support of students.

Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?

Always. This year sees us celebrating 100 years of Learning Disability Nursing, and the Department have planned some exciting activities to raise awareness of that field of nursing. The activities include rock painting where students, teaching staff and service users will be painting 100 rocks symbolising what Learning Disability Nursing means to them. These will then be distributed across Chester and beyond. (see Facebook page UoC Learning Disability Nursing Rocks!). We have a celebration event planned where mentors, staff, service users and students past and present will be invited and cake will be consumed along with several other events planned throughout the year. Watch this space!

We are also this year looking to have our Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) Programme approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The TNA programme has been running as a very successful pilot and we are looking forward to this next stage of its development.

What has been your proudest moment whilst working at the University?

There are so many times I have felt proud, it’s hard to pick just one. I am always proud to hear of the achievements of students and staff. I have very recently heard that one of my departmental colleague's has been nominated for Educator of the Year in the Student Nursing Times Awards 2019. That is really special.

Can you think of one of your greatest student success stories?

Again, so many. Success can mean different things to different people, so this is a tricky one. Some of the changes in practice which students initiate and then follow through with, astound me. Small ideas for change can become so important in the lives of the people we support and can turn out to have a huge impact. One such initiative is Pow Wow. Pow Wow is a multi-award nominated, student led, interactive information session designed by five students from the University of Chester. The session aims to empower attendees and encourage discussion on the communication between healthcare professional and patients with learning disabilities in the acute setting. The dissemination of this information has had a positive impact in practice and is a great student success story. 

Can you summarise your ‘Chester story’?  

I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a visiting lecturer whilst I was working as a Community Learning Disability Nurse in a children's team in Cheshire. This gave me the opportunity to get to know a bit about higher education before I applied for a lecturing post, which I was lucky enough to get in 2003. I have only ever worked at the University of Chester, so cannot compare with other universities, but I have found the work rewarding with colleagues who are supportive and generous with their time, knowledge, and sharing of teaching resources. I have been able to take many opportunities to develop over my time here and have worked as Programme Leader, Deputy Head of Department, and am now Head of Department. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of being mentored by some inspirational people and I think that has been one of the major influences on me and my 'Chester story'.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love going to the theatre, this year am looking forward to seeing Twelfth Night in the Grosvenor Open Air Theatre in Chester. I enjoy walks and pub meals. I love to be near to or on the sea. I have a touring caravan in which I spend many happy holidays when the sun shines, or knitting should the weather not be as kind. I am also looking forward to welcoming a new member of my family, a rescue dog, to keep my husband company when he retires in May and to join us on those pub walks.  

What is your favourite quote?

Just one?! Tricky. It depends on the day, but the following short poem has always stayed with me and I think of it in connection to the work I have done with people who may not communicate verbally. I think we should all try to be a bit more like this wise old owl:

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

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