My life at St Andrew’s, by Ian Brooks

Ian Brooks, Security Officer Team Leader, joined the charity as a Healthcare Assistant on Hawkins Ward in 1978. He retired this week after 39 years of service. 

We asked Ian about his years at St Andrew's Healthcare:

Why St Andrew’s?            
It’s funny really. I had worked at Princess Marina, another hospital in town, as a Porter/Domestic with my best friend and my brother. Both of them went into nursing and I applied to go into nursing with them but unfortunately I missed that year’s intake and they asked me to apply the next year. Because I knew St Andrew’s were recruiting I thought I would come and give it a bash up here.

What's kept you here all these years?
I have had the privilege of working with and looking after some wonderful people. I've been passionate about the welfare and the treatment of the people I have looked after. There is a variety of things that I have done including looking after adolescents, guiding them in the right direction and mentoring them as they go through their treatment plans.

What do you do in your role?
I have had several jobs here. I started as a Healthcare Assistant and have worked across 15-20 wards. I spent most of my time within the Adolescent wards but also worked with older people and acute admission. I then got promoted to Nurse Facilitator for Sports, Leisure and Recreational Services and spent most of this time covering D3 (Developmental Disability Division). After about 8-9 years of doing this I moved into the Men’s Division under the Occupational Therapy team in a similar role. I stayed here for 12 months before my post was made redundant and I moved over into Security as a Security Officer, as there was a need to bring clinical experience into the department. I was a Security Officer for 2.5 years before being promoted to Security Team Leader which is my current role.

What do you love most about your job?
It’s different every day. You can deal with a major incident one minute and taking a duckling out of a grate the next! We had a family of ducks on site and one fell down a grate into the basement, so I rescued it and took it back to its mother. It’s all about variety. I remember once I was coming back from locking the chapel up and found two patients sat looking after a cat in the main reception. It didn’t look very well so I called the RSPCA and found out that someone nearby had a cat missing fitting its description. I put it in a box with some milk and waited. A short time later a couple turned up - and when they saw the cat the woman threw her arms around me! They were trying to give me money as a reward and I had to turn it down but I said if she wanted to send a thank you to reception for the patients we would get it to them. The next day there was a lovely card and a bouquet of flowers which we took to the patients as a thank you.

Do you see your job role as a vital part of helping our patients to ‘transform lives’? 
Yes. I think it is important for the patients to interact with a mixture of all professions within the organisation because it represents life in general. When they leave here they will meet loads of different people on the bus - not just nursing staff. The staff team is also very diverse with lots of different cultures, religions and backgrounds which is good.

How often do you engage with our patients?
On a daily basis but I especially enjoy helping out on the ice cream stall at the patient summer party. I also enjoyed playing Santa last Christmas. I am always speaking to them as I move around the site . I think this is the part of the job that I will miss the most. 

What was the highlight of your career?
I have had a few. I watched Princess Diana landing on the front lawn in a Sea King Helicopter as she came to open Spencer House. She walked across the lawn on a red carpet and opened the building before driving away with her father Earl Spencer.

Then Prince Charles came to open Lowther. I enjoyed these but I was far more involved in the opening of MAH. Carlos Spencer and Ben Cohen did some activities with the kids. I remember getting a t-shirt with a badge made with the St Andrew’s tree in one part of the badge, the Northampton Saints “Saint” in another, the date in one quarter and a musical note representing Malcom Arnold in the final part of the badge. The young people all got a shirt and they got everyone to sign it, including Carlos, Ben and me.

How has St Andrew’s changed through the years?
It has grown a lot. The care for patients has kept the same high standards it always had, but now we have a wider range of staff to interact with the patients. We have grown our staffing group for each patient far more so they have access to a wider range of treatments like physiotherapists, dietitians and teachers. This does wonders for the patients, and particularly for our younger ones.

Has working at St Andrew’s changed you through the years?
I have had many different roles throughout the years and I have learnt a lot.  I learnt that using sympathy and empathy is a better way to deal with people than through trying to push them, and it is all about knowing the patient/person and how they are at that moment in time. Compassion and empathy are very important and it’s key that we all learn from the good staff around us.

Do you work within a team at St Andrew’s?
Yes, we are one big team. I work with Security and Receptionists as my department but we are all part of a bigger team as St Andrew’s. We spend hours trying to help all sorts of different disciplines around the Charity because we are all here to help each other. I have a lot of faith in my colleagues that they will support me as I support them, in any way we can.  Colleagues become your support network.

Are you looking forward to retirement? What will you do?
I am looking forward to letting go of the reins and letting someone else take over. I look forward to playing a bit more golf and seeing more of the world and having time to relax more. If everyone could have half the number of laughs I have had during their time at St Andrew’s then they have done well. I have really enjoyed my time here, looked after some lovely people and worked with some lovely people too.