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It can be a tough working within a custodial setting as an Offender Health nurse.

You’ll be caring for people with specific needs, perhaps with mental illnesses or issues with substance misuse, who have committed a criminal offence and are receiving services in the community or secure settings.

So, the support of colleagues – and in turn the support you give to colleagues - is paramount. In our latest article, we look at how you can be a practical support to peers.

What type of support can you offer


Oddly enough, when it comes to working together and supporting your colleagues, it can often be as much about what you don’t do, rather than what you actually do.

That means tempering your behaviour and mannerism to the workplace and those around you – don’t be over-chatty when the mood dictates otherwise; don’t play loud music or cook unusual and strong-smelling snacks in the kitchen area, or always be the last one to offer to make tea.

Basically, if you think something may irritate, or provoke a reaction in your colleague, avoid where possible.

Pro-active support


There are times that you will need to be proactive in supporting your colleagues – get to know them so as you can spot signs that they may be having a tough day and be a sympathetic ear to listen to them, even when they don’t specifically ask.

A good colleague is someone to be a friend, someone who will spot signs of stress. A supportive colleague is a team player and helps others out with patients when required, especially considering that your role may mean working in open prisons, high secure units, women’s prisons or young offenders’ institutes.

A good standpoint is to ask yourself about the support you may need yourself from time to time; someone to discuss a particularly challenging scenario in the workplace with; talk about home life; or even just pass the time of day neutrally over a cup of coffee with no particular agenda.

Offender Nursing - all in it together


It is about embracing this sense that as colleagues, you are all in this together – not just for the common good of the client and those in custody you are caring for as an Offender Nurse, but also for you as professionals.

It will help make your day, and your colleagues working day, more enjoyable and don’t forget to share the highs and successes as well as the low points and setbacks.

And anything you can do to offer that support to colleagues and make your place of work a better place to work has to be a positive…not just for them, but for you too.

What do you think makes a great offender health colleague? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below
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