Claire Runcieman is a staff nurse on Lotus Ward, which opened its doors earlier this year.

Claire Runcieman headshot

Part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), Lotus Ward provides specialist care and treatment to young people who have complex mental health needs. It offers young people access to private outdoor spaces, a gym, dedicated activity rooms and classrooms, all of which are vital to promote independence and recovery.

Claire previously worked as a healthcare assistant on a forensic unit before joining the Trust. A forensic unit works with people who have a mental health disorder and have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System.

“I wanted to join CNTW because of the opportunities for training and career development,” she said.

Claire has found there is a big difference moving from forensic services to working with children.

“There’s more of a turnover on a children’s unit so you can see people getting better. You see them being discharged and going back into the community,” she explained.

For Claire, her role is different every day. She could be attending discharge meetings or coordinating care for the young people on the ward or organising their leave, making sure continency plans and risk management is in place.

She had always wanted to be a nurse and fell in love with working in mental health.

“The best part of the job is seeing people discharged,” Claire says. “The hardest part is time management. The demand for children’s services is high so I need to keep on top of everything.”

Claire’s advice for anyone thinking of working in mental health nursing is to debrief. “It can be hard to separate work from home and a lot stays with you,” she said. “It’s helpful to learn the importance of talking and getting things off your chest so you don’t take anything home with you.”

Coming into a new Trust and a new service has been a challenge, Claire says. “We all came in as new staff, and we were all in the same position. We’ve all gelled really well together and I think it’s helped me develop a lot more.”

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and north Cumbria.