Life as a STORM Facilitator – An interview with Catherine Phillips

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a STORM® Facilitator?

We caught up with Catherine Phillips, STORM® Facilitator and Practice Development Lead for Mental Health in Guernsey to find out more about her Facilitator journey.

Catherine along with her colleague Nicky Thomas have trained close to 300 professionals – wow!

“I have worked as a registered mental health nurse in Guernsey since 2002, predominantly in acute in-patient.

Prior to this I worked in acute in-patient and community dual diagnosis for South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLAM).

Currently I work clinically with psychological therapies as I have recently trained as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapist.

I have extensive experience working in secondary mental health services which has included supporting people with lived experience of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation or behaviours. As a frontline clinician this has also included those people who may have been bereaved by suicide.

In my role as Practice Development Lead for Mental Health in Guernsey, it is imperative that I am aware of The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and policy documents including research indicating the evidence for efficacy of interventions and/or approaches when working with people who have complex presentations, this includes self-harm and/or suicide.”

“Back in 2017, in my role as Practice Development Lead (in conjunction with the Service Manager at the time) we identified a training need that was consistent with NICE recommendations. Guernsey had previously received training but we felt that moving forwards as a service, we needed to ensure that interventions were:

  • clinically relevant
  • applicable
  • academically robust in line with professional standards.
STORM® met the relevant NICE guidance and quality standards and this was considered along with other training packages. At the time, STORM® were delivering version 3 which is what we decided to opt for (we are now version 4). The training was highlighted as being:

  • written at the right level
  • readily understood by target audiences
  • reflected the values and attitudes that people with lived experience had identified as important in the relevant literature.”
“STORM® version 3 training was initially facilitated by a cohort of 6 trainers from 2017 and throughout 2018, to the entire staff cohort working within adult mental health services – irrespective of grading, core profession or previous experience. This has included a broad spectrum of professionals ranging from:

  • occupational therapists
  • social workers
  • nurses (general, learning disability, mental health, children’s)
  • clinical psychologists
  • therapists
  • student nurses
  • pathology assistants
  • medical doctors
all of whom work for Health and Social Care (HSC) Guernsey. During 2018 and 2019 we unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, saw our number of facilitators reduce to 2 – Nicky Thomas and myself. It was during 2018 that we spent time with STORM CEO, Gill Green, to upgrade to STORM® version 4. This upgrade meant that we were able to offer STORM® throughout Health and Social Care (HSC) Guernsey to all staff whether they were based in the Emergency Department, surgical ward, ICU and hostel to develop an increased knowledge, shared understanding and a more integrated approach to the care that we deliver as a service.

We usually run a STORM® training session at Basic level, level 1, 2 or 3 at least monthly or on demand if service areas request this.

Overall we have most likely trained close to 300 professionals within the service.

We have sessions booked throughout 2020 and moving forwards will continue to deliver the training throughout HSC.”

“The Bailiwick of Guernsey as a dependency of the UK has been endorsed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to deliver on-island pre-reg and post-reg training locally. This is facilitated by our Institute of Health and Social Care (IHSCS) Studies who run training with their partner the University of Middlesex. In essence HSC has our own academic institution and as such the IHSCS endeavours to support research and organise local on island conference and seminars. Most recently the IHSCS organised a whole day ‘evidence based practice seminar’ and part of this was a call for submission of research to present during the day – this included poster abstracts. Myself and a colleague Halina Gleeson (CBT Therapist) undertook a mental health service survey in relation to the efficacy and value of STORM® training. The results were collated into a poster and presented at the seminar. There were about 15 entries from across the organisation however voting was cast and the STORM® poster WON! The delegates who attended the seminar during the day were very interested in STORM® and very supportive of mental health services continuing to strive for integrated care pathways, shared understanding and inclusivity for those people with lived experience of self-harm and suicide.”

“For me the key piece of advice that I could give to anyone is that any professional who has a working relationship with people with lived experience of self-harm and/or suicide should be collaborative. This means that decisions should be shared so that people are enabled to make choices, and feel empowered in relation to making decisions about their care.”

“In becoming a STORM® facilitator I feel that I have made a difference to the wider service, that I have built relationships and networks in areas that I may not have had the opportunity to do so before. In doing this training I have demonstrated that anything can be achieved if you are compassionate and approach people with humanity.”

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