Never say never – Sally Sheehy

Introducing Sally Sheehy, who has joined the Trust as the Health & Wellbeing Co-ordinator - Health & Social Care

Have you ever had one of those mornings, where you turn the alarm off, roll over and want to hide under the duvet rather than get up?

I’m a morning person, so those days are pretty rare for me, but when I do get one I tell myself “Get up Sally! Get out there – life’s too short, so live it!"

And if you’re going to live life to the full you might as well live it well – by giving yourself the best possible quality of life, within your limitations.

I’ve always believed that and have got a real buzz from helping other people believe it too – that’s why I joined the Trust back in June, as Health and Wellbeing coordinator, focusing on health and social care.

We hear a lot about ‘integrated health and social care’ these days, where the NHS and Social services work closely together to take a joined up approach to physical health and emotional wellbeing.

When I first left school, I worked as a carer in care homes, decided this type of work - looking after others - was what I wanted to do to earn a living - but wanted to expand my skills. So, I trained as a general nurse. I have predominantly worked as a community nurse, both in Hertfordshire/Essex and in Northamptonshire. I delivered front line health care and even did a stint in an A&E department for 18 months.
When they started talking about bringing health and social care closer together, I decided to use the skills I’d gained in the NHS in a social services setting – to find out what life was like on the other side – so I went and worked in Adult Social Care.

I worked for the Working Age Adults Team, Older Persons Team and the Continuing Health Care Team before I came to the Trust – and it was tough. Whilst nursing was very ‘front line’, social care was more about helping people get the most from the system – giving them the confidence to access services and retain their independence, usually when they were at their most vulnerable.
Health and Social Care are still not as integrated as they could be, so accessing services is not as seamless as it might be either. It can be very fragmented.

Health services are there for everyone, but social care packages like support at home when your mobility is limited, are means tested. All this has an impact on the person, and can be very daunting, especially if you’re unwell.

Social care budgets are limited and it was very hard having to say no to people when they really needed something. The great thing about being at the Thalidomide Trust is that, on the whole, people can afford to get the right health and social care support for their needs so I can point them in the right direction without worrying.

My role at the Trust

My job at the Trust is to help beneficiaries navigate the system and get the health and social care they need. I’m 53 so I’m facing a lot of the same issues – I’ve brought up three children, am caring for older parents, been through two divorces and held down a job, whilst trying to take care of my own health; and it’s not easy, especially as you begin to encounter the wear and tear of middle age!

We’re all living longer so it’s important to make sure we maximize our health and wellbeing within the resources available to us– whether we’re able-bodied or have a disability.

Five years ago I took myself in hand and lost 3 stone in weight. I started running and thought ‘I’ll never be able to keep this up’; but I have, by doing it at the level that suits me. I’m more of a jogger than a runner but that doesn’t matter – at least I’m keeping fit, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

We should never say never when it comes to our health.

Whether you’re looking for some simple lifestyle tips, or need help with accessing the right services for your needs I’m here to help you find the solutions for you. I work Tuesday to Friday but can be flexible if you need support outside those days – just ask.
My mum used to say ‘Nobody knows everything, but with a bit of support you can try and find out what you need to know.’ And that’s what I’m here to do.

What I love about working for the Trust is that everyone is so positive - because I’m a pretty positive person myself. In one of those personality tests you do at training courses I was told that I represent the colour yellow; must be my sunny personality (better also check that with my husband).

When I’m not working, I love a good rummage at car boot sales and in charity shops, or curling up with an American detective novel and I also have a bit of a weakness for having a laugh. To break the ice, I may have worn an inflatable elephant costume at a staff training day when I first joined the Trust. Enough said.”