A day in the life of a Ward Manager

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Suzie Maclennan

Ward Manager of a Tier 4 CAMHS service in Edgware community hospital at  Barnet Enfield Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust


My day shift starts at 9 am


On a typical day

I head straight to the nursing office to say good morning and to check in with the nursing staff to see how they are and if there had been any incidents that I should be aware of.  I then head straight to planning meeting which involves the whole MDT (multi-disciplinary team) and all of the young people, we have these daily.

The best thing about my role is…

The unpredictability!  I never know what my day may bring, working with young people, in particular, brings lots of variation.


This consists of handovers with the MDT and checking emails. From that I can then prioritise my work for the day. I also check my diary to see whether I have any specific meetings.

I’ve been in my current role…

I’ve been a ward manager for just over 3 years, previous to this I worked as a charge nurse in a male ward.

My proudest achievement is…

The ward going from ‘requires improvement’ after a CQC inspection 3 years ago to receiving a ‘good’ after 2 years of really hard work and determination from our team.

What changes have you helped work on to improve the service for patients, staff, students?

Our main focus was the nursing team. We needed to role model a better standard of nursing, implement a more organised and structured team. When the nursing team improved this then changed the whole ward dynamics for the better.


I tend to have my lunch at my desk, apart from on a Monday. On Mondays we have a ward lunch club. All of the team and young people make and eat lunch together.


I’m often heard saying…

Yeah no problem, come on in and sit down

I like to keep an open door policy, I’m here for anyone that needs support.

What inspires me is…

The young people continue to inspire me. Seeing the difference the team makes to their lives is very rewarding.

The hardest part of my job is…

Making myself available to everyone. I need to spread myself across the team.

(nursing/medical/psychology/admin) and the patients of course.

The best part of my job is…

When you see a patient recover – when they are ready for discharge and you can see the difference your team have made.

What qualifications or experience do you need to do your role?

You need to be a qualified mental health Nurse with plenty of ward experience. The normal process is starting as a staff nurse, then move on to being a Charge Nurse (Deputy Ward Manager) then Ward Manager.


Afternoon work tends to be more clinical, due to the ward demands (Nurses needing breaks and Doctors being on leave etc). This kind of work can range from risk assessing a patient, meeting family members or attending a CPA.


What’s the best thing you’ve learned in your role on the job?

How to manage people and that its okay not to have all the answers but learning how to find them.

What does bite sized learning mean to you?

Quick, easily accessible learning.

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to join your profession?

You need to be resilient, the dynamics change with staff when you are a manager. Learning how to be diplomatic, a good listener with good knowledge of practice and policy.

How are you compassionate to yourself or colleagues?

By giving staff the time to talk, debriefing is so important.

Treat everyone as individuals with respect at all times.

I’m better at giving myself a chance to learn and develop, I’m not afraid to ask for help.

Before I leave work 

 Before I leave at 5 pm I check in with the nursing staff to make sure everything is okay and to make sure I’m not needed for anything before I go.


After work

I Spend time with my family, socialise with my friends and chill out with Netflix.

Day in life Suzie Quote

If you could travel back in time what work tip would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Nursing is a 24 hour profession, don’t take all the responsibility.

A day in the life… 
Interview with Helen Kehoe  @Helsbels88
Joint Appointment lecturer in Mental Health and Practice Development lead, My Care Academy.
Read more of Helen’s blogs on this site here

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