Stacey has been a Health Idva at Blackpool Teaching Hospital since 2016. She began her work as an Immediate Response Officer in Lancashire Constabulary, responding to crimes including victims of domestic and sexual assaults. Stacey felt passionate about understanding domestic abuse and making a lasting difference to improve the lives of those effected. When a new position arose for a Health IDVA to be placed into an acute health setting, Stacey lept at the opportunity to identify and support some of the hidden victims that through an entirely different route.
What made you decide to work with people experiencing domestic abuse?
I recognised how huge the problem was when working in the police force but soon came to realise that abuse is such a complex issue that I was often unable to resolve the problems in one fleeting emergency response visit. I would often be left wondering what happened next. I became aware that victims may have wanted to open up to me but the uniform and authority was a barrier for them in taking those steps, so often opportunities were missed. I have seen first-hand that domestic abuse can impact on daily life. It can be all consuming for the person experiencing it and can unfortunately and unnecessarily result in the loss of precious life. I am passionate to do anything in my power to try to prevent this outcome for as many people as possible.
What are the most important things to consider when working with victims or survivors who come in to A&E?
Be relatable, approachable and private. For victims to have cause to enter A&E they have already been through a trauma, either injured or in poor health and in need of space, care, comfort and safety. For that reason it is vital to take things slowly and allow them control over their own options. A&E is understandably a chaotic department within a hospital and can be a difficult setting to offer support. This can be overcome by communicating effectively with the staff- explaining my role and involvement and asking that they understand and respect the position of the patient. This also helps avoid unecessary repeat explanations that can be challenging for a victim to continually relay- communication is key. Although their health needs will always be the priority, it is also important to arrange a safe discharge, ensuring they have a safety plan and contact information in order to prevent them returning to A&E or being victim to further incident. This is the wish of both the victim and the staff so working together to address their needs are paramount, and my role as Health IDVA is to make that transition as smooth and informed as possible.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
Fantastic colleagues within the hospital safeguarding team and my wider community colleagues within Fylde Coast Women’s Aid. A solitary IDVA in a restricted setting could be isolating but due to the team dynamics of the project I am very much supported. Cake also helps ;-)
What are you most proud of so far?
I’m proud that I have managed to grow the project pilot into a valuable and effective continuing service that is now integrated well within the trust and making a difference to the staff and patients alike.
I am most proud of the victims I have worked with, seeing their progress and growth. I cannot take the credit for this, as although I advocate, signpost and support, the hard work is done by the victims who are empowered to make the changes for themselves. They make me most proud!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this career, what would it be?
It may not be the most recognised career choice in the world, but the difference you can make in this position is second to none. I find it is a truly fulfilling career, challenging and often emotive but incredibly rewarding. I would advise anyone considering this career choice to speak with your local providers to get an insight into issues in your local area. Perhaps volunteer, do a little research to develop your understanding, but remember that domestic abuse is never ‘textbook’ and every day is a different day in the world of IDVA.
Stacey's colleague said: 'Stacey continually puts others first before herself. She has exceptional skills around safeguarding reporting but more importantly the way in which she speaks to people making them feel at ease. I have witnessed Stacey deal with complex issues whilst always keeping her clients best interest at heart, making very difficult decisions which may have led to raising safeguarding alerts but I have witnessed the clients thank her after a difficult time.'
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Star of the Month’ as the subject line.