This month we caught up with Charley Clark, an Approved Mental Health Professional in our Adult Social Care team.
We asked Charley to reflect on her career to date with Somerset County Council and her journey from student Social Worker to the Mental Health Professional she is today.
Could you introduce yourself?
I’m known as Charley at work, I have a wife and two beautiful children. I relocated to Somerset in 2010.
Tell us about your background
When I left school, I trained as a chef and began a career in hotel management at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. After 6 years working in Hotels within East Sussex, I realised that I wanted a change in direction. My friend suggested home care as they thought it was something I would enjoy. I began working for a home care agency supporting elderly people in their own homes, this was a rewarding role. I was given the opportunity to undertake NVQ level two and three in health and social care with this company. I spent a few years working agency in many different care environments, including adults with learning disabilities and complex needs, specialist educational schools and children’s homes.
Due to personal circumstances, I moved back to my hometown Chichester. I remained working with several care agencies gaining experience where I could. In 2010 I embarked on the Bsc (honours) in Health and Social Care with the University of Southampton where I achieved a First-Class Honours. When I relocated to Somerset, I got a job via an agency 6-month contract with South Somerset Adult Social Care, this was when Accessible Information Standard (AIS) first came in and there was a huge backlog of case work. This was my first glimpse of social work practice and I loved it, of course it helped that the team were amazing too.
I applied for a permanent adult social care worker position within the learning disability team Bridgwater. It is within this team I had the opportunity of a secondment onto the MSc social work training with the University of Bristol. Placements during the degree included the Hospital Discharge team and Mental Health Social Care, both very rewarding and worthwhile placements that gave me the fundamental skills to progress my career as a qualified social worker and ignite my interest in becoming an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP).
My first role and assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) year was within Mental Health Social Care. From here I progressed onto the Approved Mental Health Professional training which is a Postgraduate Diploma with Bournemouth University.
What is your role and responsibilities?
I am a full time AMHP working in the AMHP Hub we call ourselves “Hubbers”. The AMHP role is a complex one. It is also unique among the tasks of social workers and other mental health professionals in that the AMHP is acting as an autonomous professional rather than an agent of their employees. AMHP is necessary to make decisions about whether or not someone needs to be admitted. It is also the responsibility of the AMHP to ensure that the law is being applied correctly.
AMHPs have to undergo extensive specialist training, and therefore have an in-depth knowledge of law and have the responsibility for upholding the law when conducting assessments under the MHA. AMHPs need to have thorough knowledge of mental health legislation, Human Rights Act and other legislation, such as the Mental Capacity Act. They need to have the confidence to disagree with the doctors, and to seek out and suggest alternatives to hospital admission.
Did you know you wanted to become an Approved Mental Health Professional from the start and if so, how did you go about landing this role?
When I was on the MSc at Bristol University one of my tutors was an AMHP. Also, Rebecca Owen AMHP lead is an inspiration, she has supported me throughout my journey to become an AMHP.
In general, how does someone go about progressing their careers within the organisation?
I would speak to learning and development they are very supportive, if you’re passionate about progressing your career with Somerset County Council go for it, I have no regrets.
What do you love most about your role?
The pace, the Law and the people.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of starting a career in Adult Social Care with Somerset County Council?
Working in adult social care can be both emotionally and professionally rewarding. It offers a role which enables you to establish and develop valuable relationships whilst demanding a passion for helping others and making a difference to those we work with. If you are looking for a job that challenges, you to think innovatively and offers a profession to be proud of then it’s all here waiting for you!