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Mental health nurse celebrates 50 year career

A nurse from Minehead in Somerset has received a special recognition award for 50 years of caring for patients with mental ill health.

Sylvia Parson’s, a community psychiatric nurse at the Barnfield Unit at Minehead’s new community hospital, was last week presented with a bouquet of flowers and a crystal glass recognition award. 

She started her career as a nurse cadet in February 1963 at the former Tone Vale Psychiatric Hospital. 

After qualifying in 1968, she worked with older patients at Williton Community Hospital before joining the community mental health team at Minehead Hospital.

A qualified mental health counsellor, Ms Parson was also a founder member of the Family Therapy Team in Minehead.

She said: “As a young girl I was a member of the Red Cross and used to volunteer to help at Minehead Hospital. I saw a letter one day from the matron of Tone Vale Psychiatric Hospital saying that they were looking for people to come forward to train as nurses.

“I knew nothing about mental health but wanted to be a nurse and so I applied,” she added. “I am so glad I did as I enjoyed everything about the job and learnt so much about every aspect of the hospital and nursing care.

“Mental health care has changed beyond all recognition since those days but I still enjoy helping patients and their families and I feel the support I have from all my colleagues keeps me feeling young,” she said.    

Paying tribute to Ms Parson, Linda Nash, chair of Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust, said: “During her five decades of nursing Sylvia has cared for some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

“Sylvia is a valued member of the community mental health team and combines her role as a therapist with that of her nursing role,” she said.   

“She has seen many improvements in the treatment and therapies available to patients with mental ill health, but it is Sylvia’s special qualities of compassion and commitment to their care that patients and their families value most”.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Sylvia, I salute you!!!! Oh that nurses starting now could aspire to what you have achieved!
    Unfortunately it is very unlikely as terms & conditions continually change & goalposts move daily!!
    It would help so much to look at what inspired nurses back then and then try to replicate it today!!
    I have been a nurse for 27 years but, as I did not start until I was 34, I will never achieve Sylvia's enviable status.
    I feel, sorry to harp on about it but it's true, that the nail in the coffin of nursing started with 'project 2000' & the rest of the nails have been hammered in since.
    Nursing is not glamorous & should never have been presented as such. Common sense, compassion, self-sacrifice, an eye for detail, empathy, & wanting to make a difference should still be qualifications for entering nursing. Not A levels, degrees, research studies, 5000 word theses, or anything similar.
    Nursing has been educated out of being what it should be and, unfortunately, in my opinion, will never be able to recover.
    If I had to offer up any positives achieved through nurse training as it is now I would only be able to suggest that Doctors do not treat nurses as willing servants and nurses do not 'obey orders' without question!

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