Senior Clinical Psychologist Kieron Beard tells us about his role at South London and Maudsley (SLaM) – and a bit about his life outside of work!
Which part of SLaM do you work in?
I am a Senior Clinical Psychologist in SLaM’s Mental Health in Learning Disabilities Service, which is part of the Behavioural and Developmental Psychiatry CAG. We are a secondary care community mental health team for people with learning disabilities and additional mental health and/or behaviour that can challenge, who require a specialist learning disability service. I’m currently based in the Lambeth borough but we regularly work across the different boroughs.
What does a typical day look like?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day as the role is so varied but this is something that I really enjoy about my job. A typical week involves attending clinical/multi-disciplinary team meetings; using a variety of psycho-therapeutic models to work collaboratively with service users on their own self-defined goals for recovery; supporting the systems and networks around a service user to improve their quality of life; group-work and mental health prevention and promotion work at a community level.
A typical week also usually involves delivering some form of education or training, be that through The Estia Centre (a training, research and development resource to support the development of a competent workforce for people with learning disabilities and additional mental health needs), The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience or SLaM’s Recovery College.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety of the job ensures that I never get bored but what I most enjoy has to be the social justice element to my role. People with learning disabilities continue to be the most likely group in society to have their human rights breached. Supporting the people I work with to claim their own voice and constructively challenge these issues is hugely satisfying.
Which part of your job is most challenging?
Working with the systems around a person is probably the most challenging aspect of the job, particularly in the current climate of austerity and cuts to social services. However, this does allow for the development of creative approaches to overcome this. Another challenging aspect is trying to find a balance between meeting the needs of the service and providing a high-quality, individualised service to each service user.
What is your favourite thing about SLaM?
I would say my favourite thing about SLaM is the close links between clinical work, academia and research. In comparison to other places I have worked, I feel supported to further develop my skills and there are many opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD). Things unique to SLaM such as the Board of Governors’ Smile for Health Scheme and Maudsley Charity also provide opportunities for creative and innovative service development.
What’s your proudest achievement in your career to date?
My proudest achievement is most likely qualifying as a clinical psychologist. Since then it is working with service users to co-produce The Discovery Group – this is an adapted mental health recovery group for people with learning disabilities. The last group culminated in the group members choosing to write to the Prime Minister to highlight the difficulties of using public transport in London if you’re dependent on a wheelchair to access the community.
What do you like to do outside of work in your free time?
I’m relatively new to London so I’m still enjoying exploring the delights of the city, particularly when it involves stumbling across a local gin distillery!
If you could only take one thing to a desert island, what would it be?
I’d ask Mary Poppins if I could borrow her bag to take as I’m sure I’d find everything I needed in there!
We hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Kieron Beard. See how you can get involved in supporting SLaM.