Spotlight On Finola Ellis – Pride of DPT Inspirational Colleague Award (non-clinical) winner

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in #ProudofDPT, News on 15th August, 2022

The Inspirational Colleague Award (non-clinical) recognises an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to our organisation, often not fully realising the value they bring. This person is a constant support to those around them and is someone who inspires and encourages colleagues on a daily basis even at times of extreme pressure.

This year’s winner was Finola Ellis, International Nurse Coordinator. We spoke to her about how it feels to have won and what she enjoys most about her role.

How does it feel to have won a Pride of DPT award?

I was not expecting it all. I wasn’t expecting to even get nominated so that was a shock to start with but it was obviously really nice to hear that a few people nominated me. Those people reached out to me to let me know which was really lovely.

It’s nice to feel recognised and that your work doesn’t go unnoticed. Everyone works really hard but it’s nice that when you’re going through the stressful times it’s not just forgotten about the next day. It’s great that people appreciate what you do.

What does your role involve?

I started my role in international recruitment about a year and a half ago. It involves bringing nurses into the Trust who are registered nurses in their home countries but want to work in the UK for various reasons e.g. different experience, better quality of life, more money or a better life for their children. They have to sit two exams before they come to the UK. I make sure they have those qualifications already, support them through and explain what the process is. It’s about building a relationship and seeing where they are in their journey, what their requirements are and whether they’re thinking of bring their families over or if they’re coming to the UK by themselves.

After doing their pre-employment and recruitment checks, the next part is trying to slot them in to one of our wards and confirm an arrival date. We’ve finally got enough nurses in the pipeline to start bringing them over in cohorts. This means they’ll come over in a group rather than just one at a time which will make things a lot easier. Arriving as a group means they’ll all have each other and are going through the exact same thing at the exact same time. Once the date is confirmed and flights are booked, we’ll set up a welcome call with their managers and as many people from their ward as possible. I also link in with Practice Education – working closely with Bob Booth, Preceptorship Lead, - who will do a lot of their training and supervision.

Once the new recruits have arrived, I meet them at their accommodation and settle them in. Throughout the first week, I meet up with them quite a few times to help them set up their bank accounts, help them to register at their GP, show them where they can go for food, link in with chaplains and lots of other things. My role is all about being there for whatever they need and helping them meet other people. A lot of them have never been to a UK supermarket so you have to explain things we don’t even think of, like the difference between the pound and pence. I also try not to overload them too much! The main thing is making sure they’re ok and that they have as easy a journey joining us as possible. To try and put yourself in their shoes is a big part of it – what would I want someone to do for me if I had moved country?

A new part to my role is helping people bring their families over. I help if there’s questions around schooling and education. I also design welcome packs that the new arrivals receive that prepares them for their working life here. It includes things such as bus routes, accommodation prices, sickness policy and lots of other important details they will need.

This role is a learning curve but it is great fun. I learn new things from every person who comes through the international recruitment process, especially as they all come from different countries and cultures. I have WhatsApp groups with them so they update me on things they’re doing. One has even taught me some Ghanaian language. I’m there as a peer, not just a lady from HR who helps!

What do you enjoy most about the role?

I love it so much. I could never imagine doing something else because no other job is like this. It’s really weird because when I first applied for it, I definitely didn’t expect this to be what I was doing. I worked in the DPT recruitment team before doing pre-employment checks and things like that. I thought this job would be like that but just a bit more complicated! I definitely didn’t think it would involve going out at midnight and meeting people, taking them food shopping and taking them to see the cathedral! Not many people can do that in their day job. I’m so lucky that I can do that for work. Even when I’m in the office if I’ve got a spare five minutes I pop down and see our new recruits and they’re always so excited to see me. It makes me so happy.  

They’re all brilliant, so happy to be here, so friendly and so grateful for everything you do for them. One of them picked up that I had won the award and they were all sending me the loveliest messages. It was really sweet. They’re an absolute delight to work with. I feel so privileged to be in this position.

What are some of the challenges you face in this role?

I find this role really rewarding, but I know it wouldn’t suit a lot of people because you can’t expect your days to be the same. You have to be able to go with the flow. Don’t get me wrong there’s high pressure times, but I think you have to take it on the chin. Bob is amazing and deserves recognition. He is just fantastic and takes over when the nurses arrive. He helps them clinically. He’s the calm part of the whole programme.

All the stress is gone the minute they’re here. They’re coming over and leaving their families and I want to make sure they’re ok. A lot of them will come from quite unsafe places and a scary home life. I just want to help make people safe and give them a better life. This is going to have a massive impact on them and improve their day to day lives as well as that of their families.

What's the best bit of feedback you have received?

I’ve had some really lovely comments, but probably these two messages following my award win:

What do you do to unwind?

I’m really lucky that my managers have let me work flexibly which makes a really big difference. I’m really appreciative of that.

In terms of unwinding, I can’t really as I have a Sprocker Spaniel who is absolutely nuts! Normally on the weekend I’ll take him on a nice long walk to Dartmoor. I’m hoping to go camping with the dog this year as my partner’s just bought a van, so that will be interesting!  

And finally… how would you describe your role in one word?

Rewarding. I could say a million things about it, but the overall thing is rewarding. When you see the nurses so happy and they’re so settled it makes me so happy for them and so proud. That feeling is next to none. 


Find out more about each Pride of DPT award category, this year's winners and who was highly commended, by visiting our dedicated Pride of DPT 2022 page. You can also watch the awards ceremony here.