What do you do, Cavette?

Cavette is a head of nursing and shares her thoughts during Black History Month
Colourful question marks drawn by a child

Cavette Castillo works at Evelina London

October 2022

What is your current role?

For the past year, I have been head of nursing (HON) initially for Evelina Surgery and PICU and since April, with additional directorates as HON for surgery theatres and anaesthesia. I therefore form part of a triumvirate with the clinical director and general manager in holding directorate management team (DMT) responsibilities for the directorate. My role means that I help to set the strategic priorities for the DMT and have overall nursing leadership responsibilities for children who require a surgical procedure, planned or emergency, and children who are inpatients (which means they are staying in hospital) as well as day case surgeries.

A key aspect of my role is being inspirational for others. Having grown up in Jamaica and migrated to America as a child, I was expected to achieve. Growing up in these countries, it was very multicultural and you were honoured for your achievements. I didn’t see any barriers to having a career. I previously believed that access to education and progression was more to do with wealth or connections, rather than skin colour. But I can now see how the constructs of society can mean not everyone has equal access to health and social care or to education.

I moved to the UK and went to university to study nursing. I didn’t realise how important it was for the younger generation to see someone like them in positions of “power” until my children and friends pointed out how they’d experienced differences and inequalities in a way I had not appreciated.

I didn’t realise the impact that my new role could have on others, especially the younger generation. Since my appointment, a social media comment from someone I don’t know and have never met still resonates in my ear “Grain by grain we break the ceiling”. Whilst the new role was an achievement for me, it became apparent it was also an achievement for my community.

In your new role, what have you learnt over the past year?

In the last year, I have and will continue to learn. I have learnt about the positive and negatives of being seen as successful. As a reflective practitioner, I have and will always learn vicariously as well as from my own experiences.  Additionally, my biggest learning goal is to do more leadership listening.

What have you found challenging in your role?

I recognise the expectations that others have of me are, at times, at odds with my values and even my responsibilities. I have found it challenging at times not to feel judged or misunderstood in a way I feel others aren’t. I find it challenging that, at times, it is assumed I am present because of diversity opposed to merits and therefore need to prove my credibility. I find it challenging to be expected to demonstrate that I am flying an equality diversion and inclusion (ED&I) flag. I actively promote ED&I as it is very important to me, hence it forms part of my business as usual and not a project. The other bits of being in this role I find challenging, is not always having all the right resources to help others that I have the skills and competence to help.

What is your favourite part of working for Evelina London?        

In the last year, this has not changed. The “can do” attitude and that we’re autonomous to make change. I feel that the new teams I lead have a positive attitude to getting things done and done well.

What is your passion?

My passion is developing people into the best versions of themselves. I like seeing people and teams grow. I spot a little bit of talent or potential, and I’m there. It’s my favourite part of the job. Everyone plays a vital role in my team, no matter their role, and I try to instil this culture in the people I work with. I see these qualities in the staff I have mentored, who are now actively developing their teams. My other passion is children having the best care as close to home as possible and enabling staff to deliver this.

What is your proudest moment?

I have so many proud moments of working at Evelina London. I was proud when Snow Fox opened because it allows our local children with chronic conditions requiring an intervention, to have a less disruptive lives. I am proud when the children leave the hospital having had excellent care. And, as a mum and a nurse, I still feel very proud to see my daughter becoming a band 7 nurse team leader, as she followed my career path. 

How are you inspiring/helping future generations?

By being present in my role! By advocating for fair policies and strategies that enable access for all. By listening and truly understanding what has the most negative and positive impact on our staff, especially those with a disability or other inclusion and protected characteristics. By implementing fair recruitment policies and supporting others to do so. Through honesty - being honest when feedback needs to be given and not shying away because of fear of fitting in or fear of being seen as not being on side. Developing better understanding of others and being a role model.

What would you like to change going forwards?

I know we don’t talk politics but I really feel passionate about equal access to education for all and less poverty, with staff being paid better. It saddens me that staff who choose to care for our patients as a career, are not able to eat properly and heat their homes.  

What does being part of Evelina London mean?

Being part of a dynamic team of healthcare professionals and our ancillary teams that provide quality care for patients nationally, as well as in our local community. Being part of an incredible hospital that I would be happy to care for my family, knowing they would get the best care. 

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

Thank you to the children and young people who have so brilliantly illustrated our blog pages.

What do you do?

We love highlighting our staff and their amazing career journeys.

Read other pieces in this series: