Sussex Partnership has always been at the forefront of mental healthcare and the support of military personnel. However, there is always more we can do to. This has been the case since 2000, when we helped lead the way in the implementation of the Military Covenant, In addition to being awarded Silver in the Employment Recognition Scheme. Andy Stubbs supports our goal in this and is helping lead SPFT to ensure that we keep up to date with guidelines and contumely improve our trust. Andy started his military career in the Queen's Regiment (Anti-Tank) at 18 and was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal. Andy began his career in nursing in mental health rehabilitation, moving into various community nursing roles and nurse education in practice. We spoke to Andy about the Military Covenant, how we support military personnel and plans for the future of the trust.
What is the Military Covenant? Introduced by the labour party in 2000 and put into law in 2021, The bill means that medical trusts need to consider the needs and duties of military personnel. Before this, it was hard for serving members to receive help for any issues they may have. Andy explains, "Regular personnel get sent away every three years, which might mean that they go to a completely different area from where they normally live. So, if they are waiting for treatment, they might have to go to the back of another waiting list". In addition, medical staff who were still on active duty were using their annual leave to do basic training. The Military Covenant aims to fix both of these issues. Firstly, they put serving members at the top of the waiting for care no matter where they are stationed, along with ensuring staff have time off to train. Andy highlights that this bill is not meant to give any special treatment, just to prevent armed forces members from having any disadvantage.
So, what do we do at SPFT to ensure our military service users and staff feel cared for? While working for us, Andy has implemented a plan that he wants to ensure all staff have a basic understanding of military culture. This helps ensure we can offer them the best care for their particular situation. Andy is working over the next year to implement this. He has worked with our service OP Courage to show them what being military personnel is like (showing them equipment, putting up tents, command tasks) along with the history of the barracks he has trained at. "My next goal is to find a way to do this trust-wide. It might be a bit easier to do a training video" he laughs. Following on from this, he has also implemented that when we conduct an initial assessment with a service user, we ask them if they served or are in the armed forces. Andy hopes this will help us keep a more up-to-date record of how many of our users are from a military background, ensuring we are giving them up to code care.
While working for Sussex Partnership, we want our military staff to feel supported in creating a balance between working at SPFT and doing their duty. That's why we offer all of our Reservists & Cadet Instructors 10 days of paid leave for annual military training. This helps them not need to dig into their time off and helps teams understand better. However, this isn’t new at the trust. "in 2009 when I deployed to Afghanistan, they were brilliant. I was in a very special role and they could have easily turned around and said that they didn’t want me to go." Andy explains. "They instead go someone to fill my role for the 6 months I was gone, and then I could go back. They were brilliant with me and always have been"
Lastly, Andy has set up a new Veterans Hub - a monthly virtual get-together for veterans, reservists, cadet forces adult instructors and family members of those serving in the British armed forces. The hub is open to service users and staff and aims to give a place for you to chat with like-minded people about any issues you may be having.
"We have the most amount of armed forces champions out of any organisation at 93. I want to increase this." This is one of Andy's main goals since he took up his position at the trust. One of the main ways we do this is through our Veteran's employment policy. The policy states that if you fill the minimum criteria for the role and are military personnel you are invited to interview. This helps give a more equal playing field as opposed to potential candidates being knocked out due to lacking experience. Accompanying this, we are also proudly a Step into Health scheme member. The scheme helps veterans and those transitioning out of the military gain employment in the medical industry. Step into Heath also aims to highlight the transferable skills and values members of the Armed Forces community bring into the workplace and raise awareness of the barriers to employment which members of the community may face.