St Vincent’s new Director of Nursing in Mental Health, Fran Timmins, has witnessed a major shift in mental health care since she started working in 1978 – a shift away from large psychiatric hospitals to a more community-based approach.
In a 35 year career remarkable for its diversity, Fran has worked in almost all areas of inpatient and community care. It was a formative experience during her training that shaped Fran’s approach to mental health nursing.
‘The Shortland Clinic in Newcastle was ahead of its time. There were no boundaries of what you were capable of learning. It was an incredible experience and I was hooked, and I’ve spent the rest of my life hunting out opportunities to use the skills that other nurses didn’t have the opportunity to develop,’ she says.
‘That’s what I want to give nurses here. I want them to know that they do their job well when they give themselves permission to be inquisitive.
‘We’ve moved away from ‘I will take their temperature and change the bedpans’ to ‘I am able to influence this person’s recovery’. That’s what I want our nurses to focus on and what I want to help grow; because that influence is what’s going to make a difference to the most marginalised, disadvantaged, vulnerable group that any of us will ever come across – and that’s people with mental illness.’