Student nurse placed in custody suite "One of the first in the country"

A student nurse, based at a custody suite in Normanton, has become one of the first to complete a nursing placement based in custody.

Leah Hodsman, from Malton, North Yorkshire, undertook the placement at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCHNT), which runs community services throughout Yorkshire including nursing at a number of custody suites. It is one of the first times that a student nurse has ever been placed in what is a little known aspect of the nursing profession.

Leah explains: “I had a fantastic time on this placement; this is an area of nursing that I’ve developed a keen interest in so I was delighted to be offered the chance to experience first-hand what it was like. It felt like an even greater opportunity when I realised I was one of the first in the country to experience this kind of placement.”

Leah is a student at The University of Leeds and whilst studying for her nursing degree, student nurses go on a number of placements, and Leah is adamant this was the best on her course.

She said: “I felt like I was given a lot of responsibility and handled the challenges of working as a nurse in custody well, I was always supervised but I got an enormous amount out of the placement and gained some incredibly valuable experiences. I’ve found my passion and I feel like I will come back and work in a custody suite once I’ve got enough experience under my belt.”

Leah’s responsibilities included assessments when members of the public come into custody suites, particularly for alcohol and drug dependent cases. Nurses in custody suites do initial assessments to see if they can be treated in the suite itself or whether the case is severe enough to warrant medical attention in a hospital.

Leah explains: “It is an incredible environment to work in, you never know who is going to come through the door or what problems they will present with, you get cases with people who are drunk or who are on drugs and it is our job to administer relevant treatment for minor injuries, the administration of medicine and dressing and gluing where appropriate. I remember one case where a gentleman was being particularly aggressive towards me, I stayed calm and used by temperament to get through to them and they allowed me to treat them. For me that was a watershed moment, I gained so much confidence from being able to build a rapport with him.”

Whilst on placements, student nurses have mentors and Leah’s mentor was Sam Smith who was full of praise for her. She said: “I see Leah as my prodigy! It was fantastic to have her on this placement. She built some great relationships with the people we were treating, they trusted her completely and Leah got them to open up to her. Sometimes we see people ‘at their worst’ when they are high on drugs or drunk and she was able to cope with that extremely well.”

Jo Lay, Link Lecturer from the University of Leeds, said:” I feel that this placement was a great example of partnership working between the University and Leeds Community Healthcare and resulted in a fantastic learning experience for Leah with outstanding mentorship from Sam.”

Leah is looking forward to her first nursing post with LCHNT and hopes to return to work in custody suite nursing in a few years.