What do you do, Taiwo?

Taiwo is clinical lead nurse for universal services (health visiting and school nursing). 

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

""October 2022

What is your role?

I’m a band 8B clinical lead nurse for universal services (health visiting and school nursing). This means I lead the clinical nursing services in Lambeth and Southwark for children and young people from birth to 19 years old.

I act as a senior clinical role model to the nursing teams, leading and supporting growth, development and extended roles for the teams to allow collaborative working across services in our communities.

I provide leadership, expert clinical nursing advice and management support for the health visiting and school nursing services. I work collaboratively with the matrons and children's community directorate management team to build on the clinical and business success of the service, extending reputation and capacity to contribute to the corporate success of Evelina London. I provide strategic and clinical advice to community matrons, and I oversee the set up or change of services for our families.

For example, we recognised there was an opportunity to expand and transform the Early Intervention Health Visiting service for babies and children up to 5 years old in both Lambeth and Southwark, that builds upon our current enhanced health visiting offer and can be personalised to any families identified with additional support needs.  We have been working with colleagues and families to develop a new pathway, called Bright Beginnings, which we will be launching next month. Our Early Intervention Health Visitors help parents to be the best they can be in order to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of their child.

The population of our local communities are amongst the most diverse in London and in the country, and I am proud to be in a position where I can directly contribute to care for children and families who are disadvantaged or experiencing health inequalities as a result of where they live or their race. The significance of that is not lost on me.

How did you get to this position?

I started off as a band 2 health care assistant and have worked my way up over the years. I joined Evelina London children’s community universal health visiting service as a student health visitor in 2012. I have worked across Lambeth and Southwark and some of my roles have included working as a health visitor team leader and a community matron. I see my progression as more than a personal achievement, particularly given the stigma around equal opportunities. I know I have worked hard, but I also feel lucky, because not everyone has had the access to opportunity and the progression I have had. My directorate management team contribute immensely to staff development. For example, they provide mentorship, coaching, supervision and shadowing opportunities to individuals to support their development and I seized these opportunities whenever they presented themselves. They also encourage a culture of staff involvement and openness which is key to career development.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about helping my team members to progress. Due to my own career journey, I can level or relate with people in all roles, this is because “I was in their shoes once”. I want to help them see that they can build their careers like I have, if they want to.

My team have told me that I am a role model – in fact the majority of colleagues who have moved to a new role within community services have said I inspired them. I’ve been tagged a ‘destiny helper!’ I’d never stand in someone’s way and always support colleagues to develop their passions and achieve their goals, and I think that builds their confidence and trust.

I’m proud to work with such diverse teams and having different backgrounds and perspectives is a brilliant thing. I give everyone a voice irrespective of their role and am passionate about promoting equity, transparency, and inclusion. I am also an advocate of work life balance and I promote flexible and agile working.

I am also passionate about risk management, patient safety and clinical governance issues, ensuring that families are actively involved in the development of services and the monitoring of quality. For example, by identifying key performance indicators relating to the quality of services where possible.

What changes have you seen during the time you have been working at Evelina London?

I’ve seen a big positive change in attitudes in the time I’ve worked here, in relation to different cultures and race where there were perhaps some divides, and I have seen people become more accepting of each other. There have been times when staff have been upset about language people have used. To address this, I organised for every member of staff within my team to complete equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training.

I also encouraged team members to become inclusion agents. These are people who colleagues can go to for a confidential conversation or advice about an issue surrounding EDI. Someone with whom they can voice their concerns in a safe space. I think empowering people to take an active role creates that culture of helping each other out.

I’ve really noticed the difference in how people treat each other, and the families they care for, as a result.

What’s your favourite part of working at Evelina London?

It’s fantastic to live and work in my local area, Peckham, and to be able to play my part in improving healthcare for those around me. To see, as well as be actively involved in, positive change is very rewarding.

What has been your proudest moment?

I have so many proud moments working as part of the leadership team in the health visiting service. One of my proud moments was leading and working collaboratively with the heads of nursing, matrons, health visitor team leaders and staff to establish a single point of access (SPA) for the health visiting service. SPA is a one-stop, centralised referral point into the health visiting service for those children and families living in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. I am proud when all referrals are processed and responded to in a timely manner following a robust triage. This change has helped to improve safe and transparent allocation of work within teams, and promoted equity and increased job satisfaction and staff retention.

What message do you want to give to those considering a career in nursing?

Nursing is sadly still stereotyped as a female role, and as a male I have felt very aware of that throughout my career. But it’s good to challenge stereotypes and be representative, and I hope that is inspiring to others. I am proud to be a part of a team whose job is to care for children and families and improve their quality of life.

What message would you like to share during Black History Month?

We all need to accept that it doesn’t matter who we are or what our backgrounds are, we can all fall into the trap of not seeing the people in front of us and of prejudicing. I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way I want to be treated and helping others to grow and achieve their potential.

What would you like to change going forward for children and families?

We need to ask the question why and seek new ways to change outcomes. We need to think more about the parents and carers who need our support, work to remove any fear they have around ‘seeking help’, remove the ‘risk’ they fear when accessing our services, and change the way in which we engage. 

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

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