Improvement And Development Manager For Social Care Wales



Hi, I’m Jim and I am an Improvement and Development Manager for Social Care Wales.

I am the organisational lead for mental health, learning disability and neurodiversity. I joined Social Care Wales in 2020 to work specifically on development and implementation of the Strategic Mental Health Workforce Plan (SMHWFP) with colleagues from HEIW. Other partners that I work with are Welsh Government, local heath boards, local authorities, third sector organisations and citizen groups. I currently lead on several discrete actions in the SMHWFP. I also bring a social care perspective to implementation for all of the actions in the plan.

As most of the work I do is at a strategic level, my day usually involves lots of meetings. However, I really enjoy the opportunities that I get to engage with the mental health & learning disability workforce and the people who access services. This contact keeps me grounded and in touch with the situation on the front line of service delivery in Wales. A good example is the All Wales Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) Network which I currently chair. 

AMHPs are the professionals who are responsible for assessing people in mental health crisis and, together with doctors, deciding whether they need to be detained in hospital for their own or others safety (sectioning). The network meets quarterly, and I find it really useful to listen to the current issues, problems and success stories that AMHP leads from across Wales share at the meetings.

Prior to working at Social Care Wales I worked for a local authority in Wales as a mental health social worker, AMHP and later as a Principal Officer. Before training as a social worker at the age of 45, I worked and studied in Japan before returning to the UK to take up a post as a managing director of a business. I made the decision to retrain as a social worker as I really wanted to do a job that helped other people. I considered other careers including medicine, nursing and paramedic but decided upon social work as it gave me a generic training base upon which I could build a specialism as my career developed. 

I was fortunate enough to be offered mental health placements as part of my qualifying master’s degree at Cardiff University and straight away I knew that I wanted to work in mental health. After two years I qualified as an AMHP and was really excited to be given my warrant to carry out mental health assessments. The AMHP role is extremely challenging as it involves lots of coordination with doctors, wards, the police, the ambulance service and usually the family of the person in crisis. It is also a very important role as it is the AMHP who ultimately has to make the decision whether or not to detain a person. This is not a decision to be taken lightly as the people being assessed have done nothing wrong but are being deprived of their liberty against their will because they are unwell and the risk levels are extremely high. The job of an AMHP is fascinating, challenging and highly rewarding and I would recommend those who are eligible to undertake the training which is a one year full time PG Cert.

Later in my career, I worked as a manager with a focus on service development and undertook a further PG Cert in leadership and management. It was this experience that led me to the job that I am in now.

I love my current job as it gives me a national view of service development and delivery and allows me help contribute to better outcomes for our workforce and the people of Wales. I also loved being a mental health social worker as it gave me the opportunity to work with some amazing people and to support them in their recovery from severe mental illness.