Martin is a Forensic Inpatient Social Work Service Manager, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and was nominated by Celia Dunn.
Martin Coleman, Inpatient Social work service manager for Forensics services, has had a long-standing career as a social worker within mental health services, with over two decades service; something which Martin is exceedingly proud of.
Throughout his long career, Martin has remained committed to raising the profile of social workers and has continued this discipline during his time with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. He is equally passionate about actively sharing his valuable experience to support the next generation of social workers to help them learn to love and protect the profession which he has unwaveringly dedicated so many years to.
Around 18 months ago the Trust went through a restructure of its social work partnership arrangement with Kent County Council (KCC) and for many staff this was a real time of change but also of real opportunity.
Martin said: “As you can imagine, the first few months of the transition period was difficult.
“Previously we in the low secure services had quite a large team of social workers and healthcare colleagues who worked with people on the wards as well as people who were discharged from inpatient care and in particular people that require supervision and support in the community. Social workers were employed through the local authority although some were funded by KMPT.
“The change to our processes and the redefinition of social work arrangements meant that our inpatient/outpatient and local authority work was separated into different teams which included the local authority team providing support for people who require social work support in the community. Under the new provisions, our Forensic Outreach and Liaison Service (FOLS) help to arrange discharge for complex conditions from hospital and our forensic inpatient social work service help people recover their independence.”
“Around the same time KMPT entered into an innovative partnership arrangement with Cygnet Hospital Maidstone – a 65 bed mental health facility for adults situated in the Kent Medical Campus in Maidstone, which supports social workers working within this service. KMPT now use Cygnet Hospital as a stepdown facility for adults with complex mental health needs who require care in a medium secure setting as a response to challenging behaviours as part of their care pathway.”
Under Martin’s leadership, the team has been able to deliver a solid social work service to the people as well as supporting colleagues as part of the multi-disciplinary team.
Martin said: “As part of my role, I manage the Forensic inpatient social work service across three sites: Dartford mental health learning disability service in Dartford, Low/medium secure mental health service in Maidstone and Cygnet Hospital and a rehabilitation ward for men and a women’s inpatient service.
“We have been able to steadily build the team and recruit a number of mental health social workers to come and work with us. This adds to the excellent skills and experience of our staff across the whole service in supporting our patients.”
Personal and professional development is key to continuous improvement and Martin is a keen supporter of social work education; working hard to ensure that suitable placements are available to social work students in the Trust - he has even managed to support one member of his team to do a Social work degree apprenticeship!
“Our aim has been to recruit six students a year in my service, whereas not so long ago the Trust only took one or two students. It’s been a long process as it has meant encouraging team members to take on the Practice educator role which can take a couple of years to complete. The practice educator works with or alongside the student to encourage, role model and demonstrate social work practice. They will also provide regular supervision and help students translate their academic learning into practice. At the end of the placement they submit a detailed report about the person’s competence which allows them to move closer to becoming a practicing and registered social worker.
“I’m proud of our service as I believe it offers some of the best social work placements in Kent and possibly the country. Students that come to us get to support our service users and work alongside our multi-disciplinary team. The team consists of nursing staff, occupational therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.
“Social workers can at times appear to be shrinking violets. Our training, our values and our interventions help us to ensure that our service users are at the front and centre of what we do. We use our skills and knowledge to focus on the strengths of the people we support. Part of the care we provide is to help people with mental health problems to recover and regain as much independence. Sometimes the work we do is not always noticed or obvious to some but it is vital.
“Colleagues in the multi-disciplinary team welcome our knowledge and understanding of some aspects of mental health law, our commitment to positive risk-taking. A service user may be given further freedom on periods of leave right through to a person being discharged to receive treatment in the community after many years in hospital. This kind of work is often supported by creative thinking where it might be helpful to ask a ‘what if’ question when looking to solve a challenge. We have people come to our service who have very difficult family relationships. By taking a long-term approach, social workers can work to improve these. We talk and get involved in delivering support where we can encourage people to open up and look for ways to resolve conflict.
“Social work can be exciting and challenging and after over two decades, I still truly believe that!”
Celia Dunn said:
Martin Coleman’s long term commitment to Social Work is immense and spans decades. He remains a committed, dedicated and highly motivated social worker. Martin is the Social Worker Service Manager for Forensic Services within Kent and Medway Partnership Trust. Social workers within the NHS have historically struggled to raise their profile, Martin has not only achieved this but has been key in the implementation of the expansion of the service and ensuring excellent social work practice within the service. He has been a keen exponent of social work education and ensures that suitable placements are available to social work students. He has maintained the support of students from both the traditional route and has managed to enable a team member to undertake the Social Work degree apprenticeship.
I am aware of how highly thought of he is to social workers in other teams, where there has not been the dedicated social work support to practitioners. This has had a significant impact on enabling these individuals to remain connected to the world of social work, which can be very difficult in such a huge organisation, which employs very few social workers. His own team hold him in high esteem and recognise they are valued and supported by him. Kent Probation Service has also spoken very highly of his commitment and how he works ‘tirelessly’ to provide the required support, going ‘above and beyond.’ On a personal note, since I came into a newly appointed post as Principal lead social worker, Martin has been a fantastic and supportive colleague which has enabled me to settle into my new role and consider future development of Social Work with the Trust. Martin remains a constant and supportive manager during this challenging time of pandemic and of supporting colleagues and service users.
Colleagues: ‘The Trust went through a difficult phase when its partnership arrangement with Kent County Council (KCC) ended, and this forced KCC to pull their social workers from forensic services. This termination, in the first few months, adversely impacted social work practice and its relevance within forensic services. Nevertheless, with Martin’s leadership, professionalism and a great sense of humour, the forensic services started the process of social work practice development and promotion of strong professional identity within an environment that is historically medicalised and hierarchical.’ ‘Martin is hard working and supports the team during the pandemic. He always says things that lift you up and continues to update his knowledge on applicable theories or legislation. He’s well respected by the team and MDT colleagues, and promotes social work status within the services.’ ‘Martin is very helpful and supportive, always has time to listen and support us. Very encouraging and honest about our practice and ensures that patients and service users are at the forefront of how we work within the Trust. ‘Martin is very passionate about the profession and takes pride in being very experienced social worker. This is consistently evidenced in his vast knowledge of social work dynamics and perspectives in practice. He is very resourceful and a great team builder and above all, an appreciator of work we do.’
Social Worker students: ‘Martin has always championed the patient’s rights and best interests. He has provided guidance throughout my social work training and is passionate about the learning opportunities on offer in forensic services for students.’ ‘I have had few professional contacts with Martin and I can say, he’s very resourceful and has the love of the profession at heart.'