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As we celebrate the first anniversary of the Early Intervention programme we talk to Rupinder ‘Bobby’ Chal, Operational Lead for the Early Intervention Community Team (EICT) and Head of community Nursing for BCHC, on her love of nursing, her passion for Early Intervention and why, despite her first name being Rupinder, we all call her Bobby!

 I joined the nursing profession when I was 20 and started work in an acute hospital in Warwick before moving to the community nursing team at Aston some six years later.

From a very early age, I knew that I wanted a job that would involve helping people and where every day would be different. I was born in India and came over to England when I was five in 1974. Culturally in 1990, in my Indian background, nursing was not seen as a career and therefore not on my immediate radar.

As I discovered the NHS and started to research the care it provided.  It seemed so personalised and instinctively I knew that I had found my vocation and healthcare is where I belonged.

One of the first things I had to do was to introduce my Indian ‘home’ nickname  of Bobby at work as, back then, people had problems pronouncing the name Rupinder.  I was called all sorts – Rupert and Rapunzel being the most common.  Bobby was the name I was called at home and people understood that at work.  Although times have drastically changed and nobody blinks twice at the name Rupinder – Bobby I became and Bobby I still am!

Community nursing had formed part of my nurse training and had included a few weeks placement with a District Nurse.  At the time I didn’t quite grasp what the community approach meant in daily practice but as I gained more experience in A&E, my awareness of community care grew and I was keen to learn more.

There is a big difference between hospital and community nursing. When a person comes into hospital they lose their identity a little and we don’t really get to know them as that individual who has their own career, life, likes, dislikes, family and friends.

Personally, I find community nursing rewarding.  You get to know the real person; they are more relaxed, their personality shines through, you meet their family and friends and they have their own things around them which often reflects the life they have and live as an individual.  When looking at end of life care too– being able to support somebody to die at home is one of the most rewarding things that you can do.

The Early Intervention programme has been one of the best experiences of my professional career and nurtures my passion for getting people back to their own surroundings and caring for them at home.

We all know that people recover best in their own home, it has been so well evidenced, and our Home First approach is crucial to improving the health and social care of our citizens across Birmingham and Solihull.

Despite a long nursing career, I have never stopped learning and the last two years of Early Intervention has been no different.  It has been a steep learning curve for all involved – and not always an easy one.  But I know that each of the Early Intervention health and social care partners have learned from each other and together we continue to develop best practice on a daily basis..

The EICT response to the pandemic has been incredible.  We launched a brand-new service the same week as the first lockdown began and surpassed all expectations forecast without a pandemic.  To achieve what has been achieved during the pandemic is phenomenal and it is thanks to the team’s flexibility, adaptability, passion and learning to go with the flow as referrals increased and new and revised guidance have been regularly introduced.

We still have our challenges and need to ask the front-line staff  what needs to change and improve due to lessons learnt over the last 12 months.   We have many processes that we never thought would be part of EICT such as the dedicated in reach work, 2-hour crisis response times and trying to discover what our new normal is as we never had a normal to begin with, being a new service.  All this whilst giving staff time to recover and recuperate after the year we have had.  I wouldn’t change my job for the world and still relish coming into work each day.  Bring on the next 12 months of progress!