We talk to Donna Lakin, charge nurse at the Broadland Clinic, a medium secure unit for mentally ill offenders in Norfolk.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
My school hosted a visit from a group of people with learning disabilities and I enjoyed interacting with them, while a lot of my classmates felt awkward. I have a relative with Down’s syndrome, so it was no big deal for me.
Where did you train?
The University of East Anglia.
What was your first job in nursing?
A day services unit for people with learning disabilities who had been excluded from social services.
What is the trait you least like in yourself, and why?
I need to work on my organisational skills.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
My management team at Broadlands. They are honest, supportive and have high expectations.
“Good technology can make a big difference to day-to-day life - we can get work done faster and spend more time with patients”
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Work on yourself. It’s important to be aware of what is going on in your own head and how you interact with patients. You can’t take things personally.
What keeps you awake at night?
I love working on the unit but it’s not a job to take home.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I think it’s really important to give our patients hope, and it’s very rewarding to see someone come through the system here at Broadland Clinic so they are able to go back into the community. We are always looking at how we can safely reduce restrictions for patients. I’m lucky to have a job that makes a big difference in people’s lives and I am still interested in what I do.
“I think it’s really important to give our patients hope”
What’s your proudest achievement?
I’m proud to be part of a good team.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
I enjoy working one-to-one with patients but would like to have more influence on improving care. I’ve just started work as a charge nurse, so I would like to develop my leadership skills and have a wider influence on care in future.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
It would have to be something involving people, such as social work.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I’m committed to working with people who have learning disabilities, so I would aim for a more senior position, where I can have a much bigger influence on the wider delivery of service.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Taking your time to find out what area of nursing really interests you and what you have a passion for. I think nurses need to have a real eagerness to do their jobs well.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Less paperwork and faster computers. Good technology can make a big difference to day-to-day life - we can get work done faster and spend more time with patients.
“Good technology can make a big difference to day-to-day life”
What would your ideal weekend involve?
Spending time with my family.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Johnny Depp. Do I really need to explain why?