Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2020-21: Carolyn Wood is a Specialist Physical Health Nurse who has been in nursing for over three decades. She is Commended for her work at Aycliffe Secure Centre, ‘a secure children’s home providing high quality, specialist secure accommodation for young people between the ages of 10 and 18’, where her leadership, compassion, dedication and commitment to the highest standards is widely admired.
Dr Annette McKeown, Acting Consultant Forensic Psychologist and Initial Nominator says Aycliffe provides “specialist care for some of the most vulnerable young people in secure settings”, and Carolyn has led the physical health team there for over ten years, supporting “young people and staff to promote healthy well-being in their lives.”
Annette notes that Ofsted, in September 2019, judged the centre as ‘Outstanding’ across all areas and that “Carolyn’s leadership was instrumental in the domain of health as well as other areas. Within the report it was noted that health approaches within the setting ‘contribute significantly to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people’.
Carolyn’s leadership is instrumental to ensure the young people presenting with complex physical health needs are supported to have immunisations and medication appropriate for their age, says Annette, who notes that the staff team describe Carolyn as “supportive, motivated and passionate,” adding that “her dedication to ensure some of the most vulnerable young people in society receive the best quality care continues to shine through.”
In her capacity as Butler Trust Local Champion, Annette shares further testimonials by colleagues. Dr Tim Diggle, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, says Carolyn “brings a remarkable level of experience and practical know how to the Centre. It is probably her personal qualities that set her apart as a clinician. She can help teams collaborate because of the power of her compassion and ability to put the needs of the young person first.” Tim describes “one very difficult case involving a young person who was heavily pregnant, placed in secure care, with little external support and some rather pessimistic notions about her future”, and says “Carolyn worked on a daily basis over the course of many weeks to ensure that this girl developed the skills and knowledge needed to become a successful parent. Carolyn worked hard to ensure that the wider team in the girl’s home area understood her developments and were in a position to support her. Against the odds the girl kept her baby and has continued to make good progress; much of this is down to Carolyn’s efforts and skill.”
Aaron Fletcher, Administrator and Healthcare Assistant, adds that “not only is Carolyn a constant support for the young people, this level of care is also shown throughout her own team. Carolyn continuously goes above and beyond what is expected with the aim of achieving the highest standards.”
Aileen Conlon, Head Teacher at Aycliffe, adds that Carolyn’s educational support is really appreciated, too, calling her “absolutely invested in the care and development of every child. She has excellent relationships with staff and young people and has been invaluable in helping to lead the centre through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ann Haigh, Deputy Manager, describes just some of Carolyn’s “new ways of educating young people”, including “subjects such as Relationships and Sexual Health, Healthy Eating, Sleep Hygiene, Cultural Needs, Fitness and Physical Wellbeing, Child Care, Oral hygiene as well as the traditional nursing care.”
Dr Jack Kennedy, Consultant in Clinical & Forensic Psychology, says:
“It remains a privilege to know and work with her. Professionally she has grown and innovated the role of physical health nursing in adolescent secure care over the last 20 years to provide an exemplar national model that is highly regarded by service users, the multi-disciplinary team and commissioners at regional and national level. She exudes the values of care, compassion, respect, honesty and accountability in large doses and is an example to any aspiring healthcare practitioner. Important to note is that her glee and smile never fails to light a room!”
Ann adds that Carolyn “has a philosophy of “how can we?” and “let’s make it happen”. She is a great advocate for young people and always has them at the forefront of everything she does.
Carolyn herself says that she “strives to ensure that our young people receive a good experience of healthcare so that they may be more willing to attend services when in the community. I believe building relationships with our young people is paramount and allowing them to have a voice when making their decisions around health. I encourage my nurses to spend time with the young people outside of clinical reviews which enables the building of trust, relationships and mutual respect.”
She concludes with generous praise for her colleagues, saying “I am a small part of the bigger picture and I would not be able to provide the care I do for the young people without the whole team beside me.”