Spotlight On Rachel Webb - Pride of DPT Inspirational Colleague Award (non-clinical) winner

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in #ProudofDPT, News on 29th November, 2023

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 Rachel Webb, Operational and Strategic Neurodiversity Lead in the Devon Adult Autism and ADHD Service (DAANA) and Devon Adult Autism Interventions Team (DAAIT). We spoke to her about how it feels to have won, what her role involves and what motivates her.

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

Humbling. I’ve been lucky throughout my career to work with some wonderful people (staff, service users, carers), and I see what I do as part of wider team/system, so to be nominated and have won feels it should be a shared win.

What is the main purpose of your role? And what does a typical day look like?

My role has three main elements:

  • Operational and management oversight of the Neurodiversity (ND) services.
  • Form part of the Specialist Directorate senior management team.
  • Strategic lead for Neurodiversity (ND) - this means thinking about ND in relation to our organisation, wider Devon system, and further afield.

Given the breadth of the role, my days are a variety of service, directorate, system level meetings, as well as provision of supervision, operational guidance, decision making, and clinical discussions. It’s a real mix.

What are your/your team’s current priorities?

For DAANA, it remains working with our commissioners and other system partners to develop a sustainable way to address waiting times. There has been a significant increase in monthly referral rates for both Autism and ADHD assessments since late 2020; this has been seen across other Autism/ADHD services nationally as well. Whist this is really important, it’s bigger than the service/organisation and needs a whole system approach to solve. Therefore, it’s important the team continue to focus on improving the offer in other ways. For example, they are currently developing separate Autism and ADHD SilverCloud modules with developers to better meet the needs of these client groups.

DAAIT is relatively new, becoming operational in April 2022, so the priority continues to be developing into a well-established service. The team works across all of Devon, including Plymouth. They work using a tiered approach to intervention and are currently reviewing the tiers and associated offers based on caseload and experience of those who have used the service over the past 12 months.

What qualifications and training do you have? And what career paths have you taken?

I’m a mental health nurse and did my training in the 1980’s, before degree pathways. I’ve done a range of ‘standalone’ university modules over the years, and several leadership and management courses at local and system levels.

I’ve spent the past decade working in ND services and undertaken a range of training opportunities to support my learning, including membership of regional and national communities of practice.

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

One of the challenges within my role is thinking about neurodiversity more broadly. Whilst we have DAANA and Children and Family Health Devon (CFHD) services for specific functions, such as autism assessments, neurodiversity is so much wider, touching all services and many colleagues either directly or within their carer roles. These conversations are crucial and part of the remit of my job. However, they compete against significant other equally important policy and practice developments. There’s something about the challenge of time and ‘headspace’ to consider and develop these areas.

What do you enjoy most about this role? And what motivates you?

I enjoy the variety and opportunity to shape the role. I’m motivated by the chance to make a difference for people; improving their experience, opportunities and hopefully self-agency. This is as true for both staff and service users.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I struggle to pin it down to one, but I think 36 years in the NHS and, most days, I’m grateful for the decision to become a nurse.

What's the best bit of feedback you have received from a patient or service user?

A long time ago, when I was ward manager, the parents of someone on the ward gave some feedback about how they felt excluded from decisions. This led to very positive collaboration and development of processes to change this.

What do you do to unwind?

Time with family and friends, and walking – even better if there is a pub at the end of the walk!

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