Our new Hospital Director for Holybourne Hospital, Matt Beavis, gives us an insight into his industry experience, how he is settling into his role so far and the vision he has for the future of the service.
Holybourne Hospital is an Adult Mental Health hospital for people of all genders with severe and complex mental health conditions based in London. The service provides high quality intensive treatment in a clinically safe, caring and secure environment.
Can you tell us a bit about your career background and experience?
“I started working in healthcare because I have a brother who has learning disabilities and growing up, I’d had quite a bit of experience around his needs, and some of the things we encountered as a family. This led me to being interested in healthcare provision, and helping people. I started out as a healthcare assistant to see if I could work in the system and found that I loved it – it didn’t feel like work to me. I enjoyed doing activities with people to make sure they had the best day.
“At the start of my career, I decided to do my nursing training where I got really interested in mental health. I was trained at Kings College London, and I did various placements during my training including working in a national self-harm ward within the South London and Maudsley trust. I loved it because we looked at different ways to help patients equip themselves with how they were feeling. From there, I worked in addictions with drugs and alcohol in the community, which allowed me to put my transferable skills into practice. After a few years I became a Lead Nurse for addictions, and later on for all of the specialist services across the organisation within South London and Maudsley including challenging behaviour, psychosis, self-harm and eating disorders. This improved my oversight of mental ill health and addictions work across adults and children. Eventually, I became Assistant Director of Nursing across the trust and took a lead function in safeguarding children. Developing safeguarding training was a way to equip our staff with the skills you would need to try and support people earlier, and try and prevent potential cases. While I worked in this role, I completed a Master’s in Public Administration and from the research of this work, the staff and I reinvented our safeguarding arrangements across the trust. I applied the research and skills from my course, in the work that we were doing. I presented this work in Montreal and across the UK. The next step in my career with the trust was becoming Deputy Director of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and my experience in safeguarding children helped massively with this role. I then realised I had been at the same organisation for 18 years and thought I better try something different. I wanted to acquire some new skills and learn some different systems.
“For a few years I did some consultancy work across senior nursing for commissioners and local authorities. I worked with a particular local authority on an improvement journey after they had a pretty bad Ofsted, and we managed to get their Ofsted up to Good and Excellent, which was really great.
“I then went on to be Director of Nursing in the Roehampton Priory Hospital for a couple of years where we improved their CQC rating and their hospital practices. In the last year or so I did some covid work which involved making sure we had accessible testing sites in a borough I’d worked in previously. This led into an Integrated Commissioning role in the same borough working with CCGs, local authorities, and a lot of the providers, building on a lot of experience that I had in those organisations. I then heard about this exciting opportunity over at Holybourne. I want to make a difference to how we engage with our patients and staff, our commissioners, our regulators, our referrers, and also the wider organisation as a whole. The role fits nicely with my background in mental health and the improvement journeys I’ve dealt with.”
What is your favourite thing about working at Holybourne so far?
“My favourite thing at the moment is getting to know the patients and the staff, and seeing how the hospital has grown over the last few years. I’m enjoying getting to know the people, including thinking about how we can engage the people more, how we can co-produce across our patients and staff, and how we can empower people to be part of the journey of continued improvement. There’s lots of things that have been achieved at Holybourne, but there is a lot of further potential for systems, processes, practices, and outcomes for patients and staff. The real thing that is exciting me and energising me is empowering everyone to see what the vision is, how we can put it in place and then for us all to go on that journey together. I’m a few weeks into the role, and every day you learn a little bit more and you hear a few more ideas from staff and patients that you can build into the plan that we’re building.”
Can you give us an overview of the services that are provided at Holybourne?
“We’re an acute mental health hospital for adults. We’re dealing with people coming in from the community who need an assessment, and we look at what they specifically need and what their presentation is. It might be people that have been through the hospital before or new people from the community. We look at the whole multi-disciplinary way of trying to help, including assessing what the problem or assessment is, and what plan we need to put in place. This helps us to look at the whole patient in terms of physical and mental health, and therapy needs. We work out the best way to help a patient so that we can get them back into the community as quickly as possible. Once a patient is back in the community, they are usually accompanied by community support, the community mental health team, the home treatment team, or a team they were working with before they had a relapse.
“We give patients that extra level of support while they’re at Holybourne because it is our priority that they go back into the community safe and well. We do this across our multi-disciplinary team, but we also have the benefit of our expert by experience, Nash, who helps us work in a collaborative way with our patients. We also work with advocates who help us cater to our patient’s perspective so we can all really work together towards a plan our patients benefit from, including discharge plans and medication management. The plans we put in place for each patient allows them to utilise and grasp new skills, so that when they leave here, they are in a better position in terms of their mental ill health, their recovery, and getting back into their lives.”
What are the team like at Holybourne?
“I’ve been here about 5 or 6 weeks and although it’s early days, I have been impressed by how caring and passionate the environment is at Holybourne. The team are committed to their patients, and their patient’s care. It feels really warm, the type of place you want to work in. It’s been especially nice receiving a lovely welcome coming in as Hospital Director. Everyone has a real level of knowledge and expertise across our services, and we’ve got a really good focus amongst our staff.
“I also think the key, crucial thing when you’re working with our patient group is that you have a group of people who recognise why they’re coming in to work every day, and who go the extra mile to meet the needs of their patients. Our patients have told me that the staff bring a caring and compassionate approach to their needs, and we also see similar comments in our compliments. When we come across things that aren’t going so well, we have a team who are reflective and improve by taking on the learning and putting it into practice.
“Overall, I’ve been impressed with the warmth and quality of interventions from the team.”
What is your vision for the service and where would you like it to be in the next few years?
“Initially, my vision for the service is to consolidate what the improvements we’ve made are, and to look at how we produce the best care for our patients. Also, it will look at how we make ourselves the best and highest quality acute provider that we can possibly be for our patients, their family, and our referrers. It is about creating a place where patients want to come and be treated. A place where we outline a patient’s recovery, their outcomes and that we see real changes to their lives happening as quickly as possible. We want to get patients back into the community in a focused and managed way.
“I’d like Holybourne to be the place that referrers refer to by choice, and I want them to send patients to us because they have a level of confidence in us. I want us to be a place where staff want to come and work, and a place where we can recruit people because they know about the quality, standards, and our welcoming environment. We want to develop staff in their practice, and we also want to retain staff. I want that level of satisfaction amongst patient and staff to be there and for it to be something that we see in retention rates, recruitment rates, patient outcomes and feedback. The service is currently rated Good; I’d like us to get to Outstanding and Excellent whilst maintaining all of the good things we do. I’d also like us to build on the processes and the governance that we have in place so that we can assure ourselves and our patients, their family, referrers, and regulators, that we are providing the highest quality care every day of the week for every single person that comes through our doors. Through our practices and care, we will demonstrate that everything is in place for patients leaving the hospital. I want people to feel that quality and culture when they come here in the care they receive, but also in the environment that we give our staff. The aim is for our staff to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.
“The vision for Holybourne entails a clear journey that staff, patients, and partners can join. We will celebrate when we get it right, and when there are areas for improvement, we will make sure we are constantly learning and evolving. It is important that we all move forward and learn together in the best and most timely way we can, empowering people across the board.”
And finally, what do you like to do in your spare time?
“I love sport. I’m a keen watcher of most sport, particularly football and rugby. I am a big Liverpool fan. I hit 50 last year and I wanted to start getting fitter again. I wasn’t ready to go back into full-on football but from 50 you can do walking football, so I do this once a week now for a local club which has been a good way for me to get back into it!
“I have a wife, a son, and a black Labrador – I adore all of them. My son is just about to go off to university so I’m mainly focusing on getting him ready for that at the moment.”