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Enhancing patient safety: The journey of Storm Skills Training at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust

by | Jan 25, 2024

An interview with Chloe Grey. Chloe is Project Support Co-Ordinator (Department Education & Development) at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

At Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, the commitment to suicide prevention is reflected in the demand for Storm Skills Training. They have invested in a dedicated support and coordination role for the delivery of Storm Skills Training for their employees to provide the best possible mental health outcomes for their patients.  

To gain deeper insights into the roll-out of Storm Skills Training, we had the opportunity to catch up with Chloe, who plays a pivotal role in the delivery of this program. 

Thank you for talking to us Chloe! We are excited to hear about your new position and the roll-out of Storm Skills Training at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Can you start by telling us a little bit about the Trust and the services you provide?

“At Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) we provide mental health and learning disability care for people across Norfolk and Suffolk. We are dedicated to providing high-quality care with compassion, delivering many of the NHS services that are provided outside of hospital and in the community. We have clinical teams providing services in inpatient, community, and primary care settings.

As a trust, we believe in ‘working together for better mental health’ “

We'd love to hear more about your role. Can you tell us what you do and what aspect of your job brings you the most satisfaction? Also, is there a particular area of your role that you find particularly fulfilling or inspiring?

“My role is Project Support Co-ordinator (Department Education & Development), I work closely with the Associate Director of Nursing to support the development of all operational processes, support weekly and monthly review meetings, and liaise with Trust stakeholders.

I’m the first point of contact for enquiries regarding operational improvement, work programmes, and the resolution of day-to-day problems. I provide comprehensive programme and project administrative support in the running of the Storm Skills Training within the Trust to support the delivery of high-quality, safe, and effective care 

No two days are the same – I enjoy the variety and breadth of the tasks and the continual learning of this role. I get to meet and collaborate with all different people, from different departments across the Trust. Seeing a project from the start, and through all the stages of evolution is always a privilege when working for a Mental Health Trust. I cannot wait to see where we are in the next 12 months.

I don’t have a clinical background, but I haven’t needed one to understand the positive impact on patient care Storm Skills Training courses can have. I’ve seen this evidenced through the engaging course content and our staff’s individual feedback.

I am proud to be a part of a team that plays a small but primary role in putting on the prevention of suicide training, which is so important – This alone is incredibly rewarding for me!”

The level of dedication and commitment your organisation shows in preventing self-harm and suicide is wonderful, and this is reflected in the creation of your job role. As part of your role, you are instrumental in facilitating the training for various staff members. Can you please share some insight into how this works in your Trust?

“We are still in the early stages of the roll-out, but we have identified the need for Storm Skills Training to be a part of the wider Trust strategy. This is a long-term piece of work to deliver evidence-based, high-quality care to all those we serve. My team believes Storm Skills Training to be considered within this project. This is a vital piece of work in our Trust’s journey towards excellence in mental healthcare – so watch this space!

The overall feedback has been fantastic and very positive. We really value our staff voices, and we are very keen to listen and to make workable and considered recommendations from what they say.” 

As Storm Skills Training, and the research and evidence in self-harm and suicide prevention is continuously evolving, what are your aspirations for the future of the program within your organisation? How do you see it growing and making an even greater impact in the years to come?

“Our aim is to develop a strong group of Storm Skills Training facilitators in the Trust to support with the training roll-out. Our trust is 5,000+ employees strong and growing. We will need to continually expand to meet the required demand for this training.

We want everyone Trust wide to have an awareness of Storm Skills Training and the best practices in self-harm and suicide prevention.

Storm Skills Training will be an integral part of our approach to risk assessment, but in addition what we are looking to put in place is a forum for trainers to come together, share their experiences and to identify areas of best practice. This forum will be the vehicle to influence the wider Trust.”

And finally, do you have any words of advice to organisations considering similar investments in self-harm and suicide prevention training? What advice or insights would you share based on your experience so far?

“Starting off on the right foot. The first thing I had to do when I started my role was to get up to scratch with all things ‘Storm’!

The Storm Skills Training team have been so helpful and supportive, helping me to understand their training package and always quick to answer the many questions I had. I feel we (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust) have a great working relationship with the whole team they have been a fantastic support so far in my journey, and I look forward to seeing how this develops in the next year on this project.

I think the Storm Skills Training programme, once adopted throughout our Trust, will have a lasting and sustainable impact on the staff and the service we offer to the people in need. From what I’ve learnt so far on my journey, is that Storm Skills Training has the power to positively empower our employees to work to their best ability in their everyday practice.”

We also caught up with Chloe’s manager, to ask him why the training, and Chloe’s role is important to the Trust;

“We are so excited to be delivering Storm Skills Training to our clinicians to help support them in the work that they do. Delivering this type of training isn’t straight forward and Chloe is pivotal in ensuring that we do this is a systematic way and that we constantly listen to feedback and improve our delivery. Ultimately, we want to ensure that the training has an impact on our patient safety culture by reducing the number of incidents that we see.”

Chloe, thank you again for taking the time to talk to us, it’s been a pleasure hearing about your role and about the work that the rest of the team at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are doing – it’s extremely inspiring and we’re looking forward to working with you as you roll out and deliver training.

We’ll look forward to following your journey and hearing about the impact on your staff and services and we would love to continue sharing your learnings with the community as you continue to grow and evolve your training programme.

Linda's Story:

Meet Linda Gask: Co-founder

I studied medicine in Edinburgh, before moving to Manchester where I trained in psychiatry. I had both professional and personal interest in mental health, having experienced depression and anxiety myself. I was acutely aware of the need for effective communication to better understand and work with my patients.

Storm Skills Training started as a research project Manchester University funded by the Department of Health in the 1990s. Myself and Richard Morriss developed a training package that demonstrated how using viewing recorded roleplays could actually change people’s behaviour. We first tested our approach in Preston, then across a wider area in South Lancashire.

At that point, we named it Storm Skills Training and we were joined by Gill Green to roll out the delivery of training. Gill further developed Storm as a CIC and it’s wonderful to see how it has grown to where it is today under Bianca and her team.

My passion for many years has been on making mental health support more accessible in primary care. Until the Spring of 2023, I was Presidential lead for primary care at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and I continue to offer advice on the issue.

I moved to Orkney full time in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. I am Chair of a local mental health organisation called the Bilde Trust. As a rural community, we face our own challenges with mental health – it’s great to be involved in making a difference where I live.

Orkney is a wonderful place, unlike anywhere else in Scotland or the UK. I particularly enjoy writing here. After my first book, The Other Side of Silence, was published, I wrote my second (Finding True North) about how moving here positively impacted my own mental health.

My third book will be published at the end of 2024, exploring mental health and feminism. Maybe then I will take it easy, but that’s very hard for me to do!

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A not-for-profit social enterprise delivering high-quality skills training in self-harm and suicide prevention.

Keith's Story

Meet Keith Waters: Non-executive Director

Keith has over 25 years of clinical experience in Liaison psychiatry, self-harm and suicide prevention and was awarded an Honorary Research Fellowship by Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (DHCFT) in 2013.

For many years he was the lead for the Derby site of the Multicentre Study of self-harm in England, a study which he still maintains a very active role in. Until recently he was the Clinical director for self-harm and suicide prevention for the Trust and retains a post within the research team.

Keith is also a Storm Skills Training consultant with many years experience in facilitating, delivering, and supporting Storm Skills Training and has for a number of years held a seat on the National Suicide Prevention Alliance steering group.

He has been the Suicide Prevention manager for the East Midlands and Clinical Advisor for Suicide Prevention with the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, developed a business and clinical case for Liaison Psychiatry Services in Derbyshire, and was the clinical advisor for its implementation.

Keith is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and presenter in Self Harm and Suicide prevention and management, locally and nationally in addition to the work with DHCFT and Storm Skills Training, has helped develop and delivered an initially lottery-funded suicide awareness training program across the East Midlands and organised chaired and delivered at numerous nation conferences and events. Keith has also been a joint author on numerous published research works, and chapters in clinical textbooks on self-harm and suicide prevention and has contributed to policy and practice guidance developments locally and nationally.

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Alf's Story

Meet Alf Hill: Non-executive Director

I first encountered Storm Skills Training CIC during my time as a volunteer Business Mentor at Unltd – a charity that supports social enterprises. Co-founder Gill Green was one my mentees in 2010 when Storm Skills Training was still within the University of Manchester and at the beginning of its journey to becoming an independent Community Interest Company.

At our first meeting I asked Gill, “How do you think I can help you?” Gill’s response was “Well… you could explain accounting to me.” We worked together for 18 months to develop Storm Skills Training as a social business. When Storm Skills Training CIC was finally incorporated in 2011, I was invited by Gill and Linda to be a non-executive Director and became Chair of the Board ten years later in 2021.

I’ve had a diverse career; initially as a civil servant, then in senior management and executive and non-executive roles in insurance and reinsurance in the UK and USA, in the corporate sector, and in Lloyd’s of London.

I returned to the public sector initially in adult education then at the Equal Opportunities Commission, later the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

A qualified accountant, I’ve been trustee of several charities, local and national, currently the Yapp Charitable Trust and the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

At Storm Skills Training, post-pandemic I feel that we are stronger than ever. I’m excited about the future with our new team with an ambitious plan.

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Gill's Story

Meet Gill Green: Co-founder

My career has taken me from nursing to academic research and finally to the development of Storm Skills Training CIC as a skills training company.

When I was nursing, so many of my patients often expressed that they felt so hopeless that they thought about ending their life. And like so many of my colleagues, I felt ill-equipped to know the right way to respond. It was a dilemma that I wanted to address through skills training – to give fellow healthcare professionals the confidence and practice they needed to have those difficult conversations.

In 1997, it was a chance job advertisement in a national paper for a Trainer and Researcher that introduced me to Storm Skills Training. At the time, I saw the 12-month project, working with Linda Gask at the University of Manchester, as an opportunity to learn new skills to take back to clinical practice. After the project, I stepped away for a few years, remaining in research but working with prisons on a different project. Research was definitely where I wanted to be.

I came back to the University of Manchester in 2003, when Linda and I started to develop the training package we now know as Storm Skills Training. It was important to us to translate the theory into usable, effective practice. I knew that as a healthcare practitioner, it wouldn’t be enough to sit in a room and be ‘taught’ suicide prevention. It is only through practice that we can actually ‘do’ suicide prevention.

I’m looking forward to supporting Bianca in realising her vision for where we go to next – and to exploring even more new directions for my own career. 

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Bianca's Story

Meet Bianca Romanyk: CEO

After 20 years in the mental health field, I am incredibly proud to be CEO of Storm Skills Training.

In my early career as a probationary psychologist working in community mental health, I can remember thinking that I’d like to one day have a role that could influence and impact the lives of many who were in distress. I recall meeting the CEO of the mental health service and being inspired by her and the compassion and empathy she showed those experiencing mental health issues.

Being in a small town in rural Australia I had the privilege of my role spanning across several areas of mental health, including working in an ongoing way with people with severe mental illness and crisis assessment (and being on call). I enjoyed all of it - I loved working with people, building trusting relationships, and working alongside them. I developed a special interest in working with younger adults with complex trauma and was lucky enough to train and be part of the Dialectical Behavioural Team for a short while. All of these experiences in my early career have driven my passion to make a difference for those in distress. I believe it is the quality of the connection that we make with people that makes a difference.

My career took me away from the frontline but rooted deeply in mental health and creating positive change. I found myself sat in a Storm Skills Training session as a trainee facilitator in 2013, Gill was delivering the course. I’d started in a brand-new role, working with schools in Australia to support their communities impacted by suicide. I recall vividly the anxiety of being on film in front of my new colleagues and the relief, value, and benefit the experience gave me. I left the training session feeling so empowered – I knew this course would help teachers and others working in schools to have conversations that made a difference to young people in significant distress. I wanted everyone to have Storm Skills Training!

Life presented itself with an opportunity to move to the UK. In 2014, before I left, Gill returned to Australia, we agreed to meet and talk about the opportunity to work together when I arrived. I arrived in the UK, with my two dogs, on the 7th of August 2015 and started work with Storm Skills Training on World Suicide Prevention Day the next month.

I haven’t looked back, my life here in the UK is lovely! When I’m not working, you’ll find me on my local common with my dogs, Derek and Doris, enjoying the view and nature. Or in my garden having a chat to the plants. I enjoy all things creative. More recently I have become a foster carer and am looking forward to this new life challenge and making a difference to the lives of young people.

I love the Storm Skills Training team, our consultants, and community and am always thinking about how to build and improve on the work we do, to have a positive impact on the world. I know that between us all we can make a real difference to people in distress. That’s what I am most excited about.

I believe passionately that Storm Skills Training helps to save lives. My vision for the future of Storm Skills Training, and our community, is to strive toward a more collaborative, empowering, and person-centred approach to self-harm and suicide prevention. A world where distress is met with compassion, everyone feels empowered to help and the support offered is tailored to the unique needs of people and their stories.





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Find support:

If you need help and support please reach out for it, here are some options:

Samaritans (UK)

Email: jo@samaritans.org

Phone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)

Visit: samaritans.org

International Association for Suicide Prevention (International)

Visit: findahelpline.com/i/iasp