Kirsty’s Climb up Mount Kilimanjaro

Kirsty Hilton
Kirsty Hilton

Kirsty works for the Trust at the I.T. Services Walk In Centre  Duncan Macmillan House Health Informatics Service.  

Kirsty and her colleagues link regularly with the Involvement Team. We got chatting  over a hot laptop and found out she was planning a very big adventure!  The reasons for attempting this challenge were inspired by  her recovery from stress, anxiety and depression. 

Here is Kirsty’s story…..

In October 2016, I’m going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,341 feet. This will be a 9 day trek on the Lemosho route and will be through Charity Challenge (the same company who ran the BT Red Nose Climb 2009). This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever undertaken and hope that I can raise as much money as possible.

The trip is entirely self funded – something I believe to be important as it means EVERY penny donated and raised will ALL go to Mind.

My reason for doing this as well as my own personal challenge, is to raise more awareness for Mental Health as it’s something I’m so passionate about. I work for the Trust and I know how valuable their Mental Health services are to people. However I don’t believe Mental Health gets anywhere near the support and funding it needs. I want to be a part of trying to change this.

I absolutely love exercise and keeping healthy and most people know this. As well as constantly going to the gym, I walk everywhere and also regularly go walking with family in Peak District amongst other places.

However, there are a lot more people who won’t know that I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety over the years. I was off work for 4 months in 2015 with stress, depression and anxiety, and was a shadow of myself at the time. There were days I struggled to even get out of bed and dressed. I was constantly in tears; other days I just felt numb – not even sadness but just a complete absence of emotion. It’s hard to convey how this felt, but as with all mental health issues, talking about it can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome as it could lead you to feeling a failure and vulnerable.

Through friends, family and my own mental will, I managed to deal with the changes all happening at once in my life, a lot which were out of my control, find ways to manage and am now a much happier and content person. Mental Illness will never go away but I know how I can recognise the signs, manage it and use it to enable me to live my life to the full.

Read Kirsty’s story in full on her blog here



Managing Violence and Agression (MVA) Peer Support Critical Debate Conference. 1st June 2016.

1st June 2016.

Hi,  I’m Kat. I’m a Peer Health Care Assistant with lived experience of Mental Health Services. I was recently appointed on Ward Rowan 2. This is an acute female ward at Highbury Hospital, Bulwell.  I completed my MVA training at the end of April 2016. I heard of colleagues participating in up to 20 restraints a day as I chatted to people I met on my training. So many questions were running through my mind as we learnt and practiced the restraint techniques.

Here are my thoughts about restraint. Do certain patients become known for needing restraint?

Are patients in a cycle of learnt behaviour?

Do they react and we respond and the pattern repeats?

When the need for restraint arises, is it carefully planned for individual people? What about people’s history, past abuse, claustrophobia or ethical issues around different genders being involved in a possible restraint.

Do we give patients the time to calm down and regain control of themselves before we move in to physically holding them? Do we use our words enough or have we already decided they won’t be effective with this patient as it hasn’t worked for them in the past? Could we be preventing them from moving forward in their recovery? Are patients being given a full debrief? My job role has made me fully aware of a busy ward and the demands to manage the everyday pressures of working in a clinical environment.

So often we don’t have the hours in the day to provide the individual care patients need to feel valued and cared for. Would an increase in one to one time reduce the need for restraint?  Can we focus more on managing distress before it turns into violence and aggression?

Could physical activity where appropriate, reduce the build-up of tension and restlessness to reduce the need for restraint?

Are side effects of medication being monitored carefully? Individuals all respond differently, could some side effects be increasing irritation and restlessness, leading to people losing control of themselves? Is living in a restrictive environment contributing to patients not having the space to release frustrations and emotions?

I’m a big believer in the power of words and quality time; talking, listening, giving people time, attention, understanding, compassion, support, distraction techniques, opportunities for achievement and praise recognising people’s strengths and abilities. Could this all help patients to regulate their emotions and try and keep in control of their behaviour?  I feel we need to support people to work towards taking responsibility for managing their own violence and aggression.

As a Peer, I feel very uneasy about being involved in restraint. How can I be an advocate and a voice for patients and then be holding them against their will? The thought of holding anyone against their will fills me with dread. I would like to make a positive difference in my work place and I now have a clearer understanding of restraint and the need to maintain a safe working environment. I have a duty of care for patients, staff and myself and to be equipped to fully provide the nurture, protection and safety to the precious people I am here to care for. I feel I will need to face my own fears around managing violence and aggression.

Who knows how I will react when I see or am involved in my first restraint but I feel confident I will not be on my own and I have a very supportive team around me.

My MVA training was a very interesting week and it raised many questions and emotions for me as a Peer Support Worker. I would like to learn more about verbal de-escalation techniques to support somebody to calm down and re-gain control for themselves.

This poem describes how I felt about my MVA Training.

The Power of Words. 18.5.16

Who am I to hold you still?

To bring you down against your will.

Can I take your freedom away?

To walk. To run. To move through the day.


Can words not be enough to give?

To help you find peace to live.

To put my hands onto you.

Who am I to do this to you?


I’ll sit with you till you feel safe.

To listen. To care. To help you face.

Emotions. Fears. Uncertainties.

Pain within.

A longing to be free.


I see. I feeI. I hear your cry.

From deep within.

I see in your eyes.

To fight this battle. To step on through.

The strength you have.

I see in you.


A hand I will not lay on you.

For only you can find in you.

All the answers.

All you need.

I’ll be right here.

You will walk free.


We stand together.

Lift your head high.

Nothing to hind.

We share. We cry.


Safe. Secure. I’ll give to you.

Time to heal. Time to renew.

Nurture. Care. A gentle hand.

To steady your step.

To help you stand.


Growing. Moving. Reach for the sky.

There’s life to take.

Learning to fly.

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Kat – Peer Healthcare Assistant


Hello, my name is Mike.

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Mike at the CPA Good Practice Awards

Hello, my name is Mike.  I’m a volunteer at  Rosewood Involvement Centre in Ollerton. I started attending two years ago, when I was caring for a close family member with depression.

As everyone who has been a carer will know, it can be a time to show people how much you love and care for them, but it can also have incredibly negative effects on your own well-being.  The loss of the person you once knew, the fading away of your social life and free time, the increased stress, anxiety and isolation… all this can have alarming consequences for your own physical and emotional health.

That’s why it is essential that carers can have quality time for themselves, where they can be just like anyone else. Rosewood was just such a place for me. When I began attending,  I was unsure what to expect. I was made to feel at home and it was not long before I was fully immersed in the world of Involvement.

Being able to see that there were other people just like me assuaged my sense of loneliness and isolation. Learning that there were others who suffered badly from mental health conditions and recovered to live a normal life gave me hope for the future. I began to attend every session I could.

Making friends and getting away from my caring role was not the only benefit of Involvement. I was able to access a number of training opportunities which greatly enriched my personal and professional development. This included  Involvement Interview Training which consisted of a course learning how to conduct an interview. Once trained, I participated in interviews for potential Trust employees as part of a patient/carer panel. You can learn a lot to use for your own future experiences as an interviewee!

I was able to attend Training sessions to ensure best practice in the workplace such as safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, equality & diversity, manual handling and back care, deaf awareness, and food hygiene and safety.

I have been given the opportunity to tell my story of caring to a number of audiences, including Trust staff members. This is very important to me since you are in a position to advise staff on what works well and what could be done better. Any opportunity to help shape attitudes and practice is vital. After this, I was able to participate in the Care Programme Approach (CPA) training, which involved delivering a presentation.

Training played a part in  finding a role I love where I can use my experience to help others. I began this role in August 2014. Around the same time, the person whom I cared for made a full recovery from their  illness. Recovery is an on-going process, but there has been no relapse and our lives have returned to normal; full of health and happiness.

However, I know that this is not always the outcome; for many people with mental ill-health. It is something they have to face on a daily basis and often for the rest of their lives. Their well-being is no less important than mine. That is the reason why I still volunteer; advocating the role of Involvement in ensuring best practice within the Trust.

I stood for the role of Public Governor in the 2015 elections. To my surprise and gratitude, I was elected for three years!  I’m looking forward to advocating my views, holding the leadership to account, and hopefully inspiring other people in my former position to see that, yes, things can get better. We must never stop working to better the lives of those with mental health issues, and those who care for them.

I am an Involvement Volunteer at Rosewood

Changing Lives, Services & Culture means a great deal to me. This kind of Involvement helps with my own confidence and has led to other opportunities within Involvement and at The Rosewood Centre. This includes recovery events, interviewing, strategy meetings and more. Being part of a community is just fantastic. The Rockers and Rosewood Involvement Centre is a great part of my life.
I have for the last month or two, as a member of the Rosewood Rockers, been entertaining patients at Millbrook & Bassetlaw Hospitals. I must say that at both hospitals we have been given a great reception by the nursing staff.
The welcome we received quelled all my concerns that the songs we had chosen to sing would be enjoyed; indeed, I was delighted to find that just by walking into the room we were an instant hit!
The audience showing their appreciation to the music by smiling, singing along, moving to the rhythm & clapping. It appeared this made their afternoon and gave them a terrific lift.To see the reaction was fantastic

Thank You

Alan -Rosewood Volunteer & Rocker.

Carers ‘Time to Talk’ is Working!

By Trevor Clower

Carer & Involvement Volunteer

I wanted to share some of my work as a carer and Involvement Volunteer with you all. I am working with Tony Bernard, (Community Psychiatric Nurse) and Rene Custers, (Peer Support Worker), to pilot ‘Time to Talk’ project at Highbury Hospital, Bulwell, and Nottingham. Every Wednesday evening between 4pm & 6pm we are trying to get Time to Talk off the ground and make it known to everyone. This included carers and families as well as professionals.

Well, something I wanted to share with you was that I witnessed the kind of breakthrough that ‘Time to Talk’ is designed to do. Yes, we had two family members call in to talk about their son and discovered that although their son had been a patient for two years, they have never met his doctor in charge of his treatment, only letters and other official documents, informing them of the basics of their son’s treatment. After only two weeks of them contacting us at ‘Time to Talk’, in the family room at Highbury Hospital, we managed to get the doctor and the two family members together for a five-minute chat.

The five-minute chat lasted almost an hour with a very positive outcome. The doctor is now going to include the family in their son’s treatment plan, so they will be fully informed and not left in the dark, as they have for the past 2 years.

This is enabling the doctor to talk with the two family members directly at every opportunity, but also to prosper from the knowledge the two family members hold about the patient he is treating.

We have also opened the door towards Behavioural Family Therapy, to help them manage their lives and still be able to cope with the situation.

One down, just another 28, 999 to go, yes there are 29, 000 carers in the City of Nottingham, their needs is what Time to Talk is all about!

For more information please contact me via and Jane will pass on my details or alternatively contact me via Twitter @Trevorclower

Who Takes Care of the Caretakers Daughter? By Michael Osborne

Michael Osborne

In this blog I want to discuss the role of the mental health patient, their carer and any staff of Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.

They will be called:

The patient. The carer. The clinician.

Please note that the term clinician may be a different person each time. The patient is taken care of at various times and places by the carer and the clinician.

Who should the patient care for?
They should take care of themselves as the first option. Often of course, they do not take care of themselves. It would solve many problems if they did especially for the carer and also the clinician and of course for themselves.

The patient should also take care of the carer.

This is part of the very emotional relationship between carer and patient. The carer/patient relationship can be challenging and this situation would be described and understood better by a patient and their carer.  However I will have a try!

The patient is often dependent on the carer but sometimes finds that very irksome and restrictive. The patient also can feel guilty about the physical and emotional strain they put on the carer. They do not want to be a burden. The patient is often more distressed by making the carer suffer.

Whilst the carer though loving the patient can feel anger at having their lives taken up by caring, this gives guilty feelings too. Often carers are angry with the illness and also with the clinicians for failing to find a cure.

Question: Should the patient help the clinician? (Discuss). I feel they should. When someone offers help either in friendship, physical care, advice or medication they should be helped and respected. However, the patient does not always want to be helped and may believe the treatment they are being offered is unhelpful. This can create conflict and distress to both.

But what happens when the carer joins this pairing?  Do they side with patient or the clinician?

The Carer frequently lacks information from either person to decide.  They end up with a double conflict of duty to the patient or their faith in the skills of the clinician.

All parties end up distressed and frustrated.

My proposal to improve the problems discussed in this blog is to increase communication and to encourage more of it; actually lots of it!

Communication between patient and carer I see as being very important with the same emphasis on carer and clinician whilst balancing this with the vital communication between patient and clinician.

The clinician may believe that the carer knows how to treat and take care of the patient. The clinician may believe that the patient knows how to treat and take care of the carer.

This is often not the case.

I believe a clinician should help and advise the carer in how to care for the patient.

I also believe a clinician should offer support and advise the patient how to care for the carer. (Discuss)

So often, the patient and carer don’t know whether to have faith in the clinician. Sometimes they get different perspectives from different clinicians.

Friendly, informal meetings should be the norm between patient, carer and clinician. They should all agree to discuss how to treat each other, how to care for each other and of course discuss the medical care together. Friendly communication can resolve a lot of problems.

Do not underestimate the power of the spoken word. Use it frequently and well.

Michael Osborne is a service user and volunteer with years of experience as a well respected member and champion of involvement within our NHS Trust.  Michael is generous with his time and always listens to others who may need support, often putting others needs before his own.

Michael is a passionate and keen advocate of open dialogue and invites you to a discussion. Please share and comment on his blog article.

Home & Away! Summer at Rosewood

High Teas & Open Day   By Gordon – Involvement Volunteer

The summer has been busy for Rosewood Volunteers who joined Trust staff, patients and volunteers for High Tea at the Millbrook Centre, Kings Mill Hospital on Thursday 4th June 2015. Tea & home-made cakes were in abundance with the money made from cake sales being reinvested for the benefit of patients at Millbrook.


The very next day our volunteers were hosting the Volunteers Open Day at Rosewood Involvement Centre on Friday 5th June 2015

The volunteers open day introduced people to the new integrated IEV team,
(Involvement, Experience & Volunteering) giving an insight on what the centres have to offer including the roles, opportunities and how to get involved.

A team of established volunteers, including service users, carers & staff were on hand to pass on information and talk to visitors.  Talks about lived experience of Mental Health were presented at the Open Day too.

Lots of people came along for a cuppa and informal chat throughout the day.

For more information on involvement and volunteering within the Trust, contact a member of the Involvement Team at either of the involvement centres:

The Involvement Centre                                Rosewood Involvement Centre

Duncan Macmillan House                            Church Circle

Porch ester Road                                               New Ollerton

Nottingham                                                          Nottinghamshire

NG3 6AA                                                                 NG22 9SZ

Tel: 0115 993 4567/8                                          Tel: 0115 956 0845