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Josh’s journey from inpatient to NHS employee is set to help others

A former mental health inpatient who ‘has been there’ is set to play a key role in helping an NHS Trust pioneer new ways of helping staff defuse potentially challenging situations with those they are caring for.

Josh Hudson has joined the training team at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) to bring valuable patient experience as the organisation looks to explore ways of avoiding confrontations from developing. These are times when patients have to be stopped from doing what they want to do for safety reasons and could, for example, result in being denied access to other patients, limiting independence, or being moved into a secure room.

Josh, 29, first came into contact with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) as an inpatient at Doncaster’s Coral Lodge, after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

There he received the support and rehabilitation he needed to overcome his problems to the point that after being discharged he wanted to repay his thanks by doing something in return. He became a volunteer – later collecting the Trust Volunteer of the Year award – after running sessions at the hospital gym to show patients with similar mental health problems that they too can get better.

Josh, of Epworth, said: “RDaSH staff turned my life around, I’m now a different person to what I used to be and I want to use my experiences to help others.

“I feel good about joining the team and feel the experience I have had as a patient will be useful in bringing insight into the staff training programmes. I’ve been there, so I can share the feelings I have felt when being in difficult situations and hopefully this will help the Trust to develop new ways of managing them.”

James Dickinson, from RDaSH, said: “As a Trust we want to encourage more input from our service users around this aspect of mental health care and Josh fits the bill perfectly.

“He is a mental health expert by experience, he knows what it is like to be cared for and brings the all-important patient voice to the team, which will help steer our training strategies in the future. We’re not aware of any other mental health Trust that has a former patient as an employee in its training structure so in that sense we feel it’s a ground-breaking appointment.”

Josh, seated, with RDasH colleagues L-R Richard Wilcock, James Dickinson and Adam Fretwell
Josh, seated, with RDasH colleagues L-R Richard Wilcock, James Dickinson and Adam Fretwell