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Meet Steve: “Clinical work is the bread and butter but research is like using a different muscle”

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20 May 2023

Today is International Clinical Trials Day! A day to celebrate all things research at Sheffield Children’s. Keep your eyes peeled as we share a variety of research inspired stories and studies throughout the day.

First up, we’d like you to meet Steve.
Steve’s first job was a support worker role at our Becton Centre whilst he was a student. One undergraduate degree, master’s degree and PhD later, Steve is now one of 30 clinical members of Paediatric Psychology based at Sheffield Children’s and works with both the Weight Management and Cystic Fibrosis teams. When he’s not working Steve enjoys relaxing with his family, and hosts a podcast all about men’s mental health. Steve has also written a book called ACT Yorkshire!
Here’s Steve to chat about his role: “When patients and families come to Sheffield Children’s it’s usually because something is happening that’s difficult in some way – whether it’s a long-term health condition, a short-term acute situation, or an investigation with lots of unknowns. We don’t always have the power to stop those things from happening, but what we can do is support young people and their families with that experience. My job is to help patients do more of the things that are important to them so we look at what’s getting in the way of that and how we can help.
“As clinical psychologists based at the Trust, we have time to build relationships with patients in a way that not very many other services are able to. In some cases, patients will voice things that they haven’t had chance to understand yet, or haven’t even thought of before, and that’s because we develop trusted relationships and the space for these conversations to take place.
“A crucial part of my work is letting patients and families know that they are not judged and that there are no wrong answers. Children, young people and even adults sometimes don’t know how to describe how we fee or why we act in the way that we do, so sessions can sometimes involve giving people the language to share what they are experiencing.
“The most rewarding parts of my job are the moments when you see someone make a change they didn’t know they could make. Sometimes that looks like supporting people to make the best choices to manage their long-term condition, and sometimes it’s being able to finally have a blood test or undergo a procedure which they had previously struggled with.
“One of the things I really love about working here is that there are opportunities and appetite to shape things and do things differently which is really rewarding. I think it’s important that as individuals and the Trust we need to be research active. I experienced research when I was studying, and I really enjoyed it so when the opportunity arose at Sheffield Children’s to get involved in a research project I had to give it a go.
“Don’t get me wrong, clinical work is the bread and butter and I love it, but research is like using a different muscle, you see something tangible that’s going to make a difference. Research allows you to try out new things to see if services, care can be better. Also, you can end up helping people you will never meet because if a piece of research is successful then it can be rolled out to provide positive outcomes for so many more patients than just where you work. That’s powerful!
“One of the research projects we’ve recently launched at Sheffield Children’s is The Lucy Project – a research project that supports young people experiencing difficulties with low mood or anxiety in relation to their physical health while under our care and which young people can self-refer into.
“Once a young person has self-referred, they will then be assessed and signposted to Sheffield Children’s psychological services. This will be followed by intervention which involves low intensity cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which is completed by myself, Emily Webster and Rebecca Evans our Senior Children’s Wellbeing Practitioners. The hope for this project is that we see enough young people self-referring themselves to showcase that this way of accessing support is successful, then hopefully this won’t be a research project anymore, rather a service that we provide.
“Sheffield Children’s is one of the many tent poles in our city – the places that make it great and are known for being special. I am really proud to work here where people come from every walk of life and are given excellent care.”
Thanks Steve for giving us an insight into your day to day and the support you provide our children and young people.

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