Dementia Awareness Week: A Day in the Life of a Clinical Psychologist

Why did you want to do this job?

“My role in the Memory & Later Life Service is really varied, which I enjoy. For example, I complete detailed assessments of thinking and memory to help determine why someone is having cognitive difficulties, provide psychological therapy for people with mental health problems and I get the chance to work with lots of staff from different professional backgrounds. There’s also the opportunity to get involved in conducting research and developing our service to make sure we are providing the best care possible for our patients. It’s a great job!

My base is Carlisle (Geltwood) but I cover Eden and Allerdale for my Clinical work. “

How long have you done the job?

I joined the Memory & Later Life Service in August 2014.

What do you like most about your work?

I really enjoy working with our patients and their families – I hear so many inspirational stories and meet lots of lovely people.  I also love working as a multi-disciplinary team with so many dedicated, passionate colleagues. This means we can share ideas and come together to provide a genuinely person centred approach.

What do you like least?

There are days that can be quite hard due to the emotional nature of the job. But I think we’re quite good as a team at supporting each other when one of us is having a tough day.

What is the most important skill (s) you use at work? Have you made any changes / introduced anything to improve the service for patients / staff?

I’m really interested in service development and try to get involved in this as much as I can. One of my main interests is in how to adapt cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people with cognitive impairment and I supervise staff trained in this approach within our service.

As part of our #seetheperson initiative, I developed and delivered staff training in formulation. This process involves systematically considering all the factors (e.g. Biological, Psychological and Social) that might be contributing to and prolonging a person’s distress and so helps to ensure a person-centred approach when we develop our care plans. This is really important to us as a Team.

I’ve also worked with the Patient Experience Team to develop ways of getting effective feedback about our service from patients and their families to ensure that their voices are being heard. It also means that our staff get a boost when they hear all of the lovely feedback we get! In the future, I’m hoping to further develop processes to facilitate staff wellbeing.

Next I’m working on a project to help support effective assessment and management of suicide risk in our service.

What qualifications or experience do you need in your position?

A good degree in Psychology followed by relevant experience (e.g. working as an Assistant Psychologist and/or completing a relevant Masters degree). You then have to complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. But the learning never stops!

Any advice for people wanting to go into your profession?

Perseverance! It can be quite difficult to get on the Clinical Doctorate and people often have to apply several times before being accepted. But it’s a great job and worth all of the hard work it takes to get here.

What do you do in your spare time to unwind?

I love meeting up with friends and family. I’m trying to exercise more but this does not come naturally to me at all!