January: Dana

Dana qualified as a nurse in 1998, working for ten years in medical admissions, before taking the step to become a health visitor - a decision she says is the best she's ever made. She is also a practice teacher, teaching trainee health visitors the ropes as they shadow her as part of their training. Dana was supported by the NHS and her local authority to completed extensive training in recognising and responding to domestic abuse and she is trained in the Safe and Together approach. She is a champion for other health visitors to approach for advice or support with a case, and represents health in local Marac meetings, developing good links with partner agencies such as housing, police, domestic abuse service, court advocacy and social work. 

 

As a health visitor, how do you respond when you think someone is experiencing domestic abuse?

If I suspect someone may be experiencing domestic abuse or they have confided that they are experiencing it, I respond by listening closely and ensuring my patient is confident that I believe them. I try to reassure them that I will not act without their consent or knowledge and that I don’t expect them to make any immediate decisions about their future. Building the relationship and trust with my patients has always been my priority. 

How do you provide the best support possible even with limited time and resources?

Signposting my patients to other agencies who can offer help advice and referring into our local domestic abuse and sexual assault team. Woman’s Aid has also been a great lifeline for many who are fleeing abuse and I have good links with them. I will always be supported by my managers to ensure I can free up my time in order to support families in their time of need. 

What keeps you motivated on a tough day? 

The families I support are what keeps me motivated. Seeing a family flourish and recover following the trauma of domestic abuse is so rewarding and makes me appreciate just how strong these ladies truly are.  Also, my colleagues are a great source of support and we often reflect together after a tough day and support each other to get the best outcomes for our patients. 

 What are you most proud of so far? 

As a mother myself I’m most proud of my children; my son Finlay who is 17 and my daughter Alix who is 15, also my husband Iain who has supported me throughout my career and wiped my tears after many emotional days. I’m also proud that I represent health in our local Marac and that I can support other health visitors.

 

Dana was nominated by a survivor who was a patient with a premature baby. The regularity of Dana’s visits meant she recognised the signs of abuse, supporting her patient to leave her abuser, but also go to the police and local domestic abuse service.

“If it wasn’t for her I don’t know what would have happened. When I left and got a council house, I had nothing, Dana communicated with different charities and got my son and me some furniture and carpets for our new home. Five years on she is a lead advocate in our child welfare case to tell our story and continue to protect my son and I.”

Do you know a professional who has gone above and beyond to change the response to domestic abuse and keep survivors and their families safe? Nominate someone for Star of the Month by emailing communications@safelives.org.uk with ‘Star of the Month’ as the subject line.