Sacha, Intensive Home Based Treatment Team (IHBTT) Practitioner and current CLEAR Mental Health Associate in Yorkshire, reflects on how the National CLEAR Programme promotes a different way of thinking and the impact it can have on the workforce of an NHS organisation.

I have worked with crisis mental health teams throughout Yorkshire in my nursing career. At the forefront of emergency care, I’ve enjoyed working under pressure – there’s always something happening, and no two days are the same. We assess patients at their lowest ebb and shine a light into their despair, planting a seed of hope and monitoring their steps hopefully towards recovery.

But what happens when you know there is a better way? A service can fall behind, become inefficient and struggle to meet increasing patients’ needs. Managers may be unaware, and it can become a problem before it is noticed. This is why I chose to be part of the CLEAR programme as it empowers and gives a voice to clinicians to lead change. It’s a key component of the CLEAR approach and vital to be proactive instead of reactive.

CLEAR opens a new dialogue between decision makers and practitioners.

I was able to show managers that greater engagement with staff is hugely beneficial and not to be feared. To my colleagues, I was able to demonstrate that there was no hidden agenda from those on the other side of the curtain. We both exist with the same aim of providing exemplary patient care, but we approach it from different angles.

CLEAR equipped me, as a practitioner – who had a desire to make things work better, with the knowledge and skills to investigate, evidence and feedback what needs to happen and how.

At the same time as learning, I’ve been able to apply the knowledge in a healthcare setting.

I have always wanted to remove barriers so my colleagues can deliver the best care to patients at the top of their ability. In previous attempts to gain a service improvement and redesign role, although I had the knowledge, I was held back by lack of experience.

When I finish my CLEAR secondment, I will have completed two projects – from inception to completion including compiling the implementation report – opening the door for me to move forward with my career.

There’ve been numerous personal rewards too. I am now more confident in myself and better at interacting with my colleagues and managers. And I encourage others when speaking out about issues to be part of the solutions.

While working with CLEAR, I’ve met some very passionate and supportive people who’ve been truly inspirational and encouraged me to continue pushing forward, to the next challenge, now in a stronger position with the tools and knowledge to drive change and benefit patients.