Meet Jacqui: Clinical Operations Manager

Jacqui Black, Clinical Operations Manager is a stalwart of Spectrum, having joined when it was first spun out of the NHS. Jacqui explains what it takes to work in substance misuse services and is keen to promote Spectrum as an employer to anyone embarking on their career in community health.

Tell us a bit about the role into which you were appointed at Spectrum

I was previously the alcohol team leader for the Primary Care Trust and when Spectrum span out it took over that services and my role was transferred over. It was something new to work for a social enterprise. Once we got started there was a feeling of optimism and we were determined to make changes to how services were delivered.

I’m pleased to say it was a good move and personally, I was given the opportunity to be involved in a lot of things – both within Spectrum and also influencing local and national guidance. Opportunities I may not have had in a bigger organisation.

What is Spectrum like as an employer?

It was great to be involved in developing Spectrum’s values in the early days and being part of establishing the culture of the organisation, with a real commitment to quality of care. It continues to be all about providing evidence-based interventions. Spectrum is totally committed to taking care if its patients but also looks after its employees. Geographically we may have grown, but we have stayed true to that ethos over the years.

How do you feel about working in community healthcare?

My career began in a hospital for people with mental health problems and it was there that I realised that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. Whether you’re working in mental health or substance abuse, I believe that everyone should receive compassionate care and with the right support people can change their lifestyles and improve their health. To see the difference this makes to individuals and their families is very rewarding.

Would you recommend Spectrum to somebody looking to embark on a career in community healthcare?

Spectrum is a great place to work as you’ll be surrounded by people that will shape your career and your knowledge base. It will also build your resilience working in the health system whether that’s within the NHS or a commissioned provider.

The great thing about working here are the opportunities to develop new skills. You will feel valued because they are so willing to invest in you. There are also lots of opportunities to move around the organisation to help gain experience and further develop your skills and confidence.

What kind of person does it take to work in substance misuse services?

Some people have a good start in life, others less so and end up using substances to help them cope with historic trauma or abuse. Nobody sets off wanting to grow up a drug addict. It’s vital that you can offer care which is compassionate, but which also sets boundaries. You also need to have a sense of humour in this job. It’s about being able to see the possibilities for people – we can’t change people’s pasts, the bereavements and bad choices they’ve made, but we can help them move towards a brighter future.

What do you get out of your job?

I have a few treasured moments, where I’ve witnessed somebody completely turn their life around. One particular guy visits the hospital one a yea with a card and chocolates to say thanks for helping him to get sober. That’s always heart-warming.

How has your job at Spectrum helped you grow professionally – and personally?

I’ve gone from being a Team Leader to Head of Service at Spectrum. The career progression has given me a much more strategic view of things – a way of viewing the world differently. I am now much better at prioritising tasks and knowing what I can change now and what needs time to better understand and resolve.

What do you think the future holds for Spectrum?

Spectrum is destined for greater things for sure; perhaps moving into other regions and forging new partnerships. Why wouldn’t people want to work with us?