Holiday healthcare heroes: Turning around the life of young people with mental ill health

Lauren Smith. Photo: NSFT

Lauren Smith. Photo: NSFT - Credit: NSFT

Throughout advent, we're highlighting those who work hard throughout the year - and at Christmas - to keep Norfolk and Waveney's health service ticking over.

This countdown of those we count on will focus on a different person or individual every day up until Christmas, celebrating our healthcare heroes.

Lauren Smith, charge nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's Dragonfly Unit

Lauren is a charge nurse at NSFT's specialist inpatient Dragonfly Unit, which supports young people aged 12-17 with acute mental health needs, and which is one of the very few of its kind in the country to be rated by the Care Quality Commission as delivering outstanding services.

She said: 'After graduating from the University of East Anglia in 2015 I was lucky enough to join the team, and I'm now a fully-fledged charge nurse. I absolutely love what I do and the people I work with are great. I am constantly learning and though the work can be challenging it is so rewarding when you see the difference it can make to the young people we support, and to their families.

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'When there's a young person who can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, and then the day comes when they're well enough to go home, it give you immense job satisfaction.'

The service is delivered from a newly-refurbished unit which recently celebrated its first year anniversary. Lauren and the team can now offer even greater activities and benefits to the young people there, thanks to the new and modern environment, co-designed with former service users.

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'Families often come along for meals and celebrations, sharing the fun stuff together as well as getting involved in family therapy sessions. This is really important as it helps to maintain, or even recreate, strong family bonds which are vital for when the young person moves on from the unit.

'Since working here I've developed a real interest in family therapy and might even look towards this for my future career development,' she added.

'I think the experience I've been able to gain here at the Dragonfly, with an excellent and supportive team around me has shaped the nurse I am today.'

• To read about other holiday health heroes, click on a door on the advent calendar above.

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