My name is Sarah. I am a qualified psychiatric nurse, I previously spent 10 years working on acute psychiatric wards in Belfast, 18 months working on an acute psychiatric ward in Central London, before moving on to Eating Disorders Inpatient treatment ward. I have now worked for PFAS for 3.5 years.
I found out about the role of Personal Functional Assessor from a friend, who told me it allows for a much better work/life balance, which was something I felt I needed after many years of working unsociable shift patterns. I started looking at the role and thought it sounded interesting, it would be a new challenge, allow me to increase my knowledge around physical/cognitive/sensory impairments, and would allow me to develop skills in assessment.
At my interview, the interviewers were very positive and gave me a great overview of the company and what was expected, outlining training which I would undergo and support available post training, which made me feel positive about taking such a change in career.
My journey with PFAS has been overall positive. There were some aspects of the role which I struggled with grasping, however, there was always someone there to help either in the office, over the phone or via email. I have always felt supported within this role, which makes for an overwhelmingly positive experience even during tough times! I have continued to have training during my time here, consolidating skills I already have, learning new skills and different aspects of the role. The role has adapted during lockdown, undertaking telephone assessments instead of face to face. We were fully supported in this change, undergoing new training, working on adapting skills we used during face to face consultations to now use these during telephone assessments. I hope to continue learning new skills in the future. PFAS has exciting plans for allowing staff volunteering days, there is the ability to buy extra annual leave and staff socializing is encouraged.
The support during lockdown has been phenomenal from all staff during this time, from senior management, operational staff and on-site colleagues, which has helped to make a tough time bearable!
Before applying for the disability assessor role, I worked as an associate matron for the rapid response and virtual wards teams in a local NHS hospital. The role of a disability assessor affords the opportunity to work in a holistic capacity with the potential to positively influence an individuals well-being within the community. Since starting the role in September 2019 and working within the PFAS team, I found people qualified as nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, whom provide support and guidance whenever it is needed.
“Before joining PFAS I was working in the NHS as an acute medical nurse in Northern Ireland, I moved to London in search of a new exciting career in nursing.
When I came across the vacancy at PFAS I applied knowing I would be able to apply my nursing skills and continue to practice nursing in a non-clinical setting allowing me to have a great work life balance and start some extra-curricular activities I could not commit to previously due to shift work. What I didn’t know at this time was all the further opportunities this role would provide me, a CPD fund, team building events and ongoing learning and development.
Since joining PFAS as a functional assessor, I firstly qualified as a personal functional assessor, then a mentor, I worked within two teams of assessors across two of the London sites all the while adding many new skills to my belt. In just over a year into role with my new developed skills, I progressed in the company by becoming a clinical support lead for a team of health professionals at Croydon.
I have now been the support lead for the team at Croydon for 8 months and I have enjoyed supporting a great team of enthusiastic assessors from varying backgrounds including nurses, OTs and physiotherapists. My role is now to provide each individual support based on their own needs, create a pleasant environment for everyone to work in, I welcome new faces into our friendly teams, supporting new members through their training all to ensure a positive experience for our service users. Here at PFAS we use our clinical knowledge when faced with new challenges daily supported by our colleagues.”
“I am a general adult nurse by background and I worked 4 years after qualifying in 2012 as a nurse in a ward for care of the elderly female in the NHS. I joined PFAS in June 2016 as I did not want to do shift work, I just hated the night shifts and this was Monday to Friday job also can do overtime on weekends, I liked the benefits PFAS provides this is what drew me to join. I had full training provided for me and the others who joined. I like working for PFAS as we are a great team and help each other out all the time. I have learnt a lot after joining PFAS as I did not know much about mental health, learning disability and other conditions. I have done a lot of CPDs with PFAS which has helped with my NMC revalidation process. I enjoy my work, as I only see 4 claimants a day, some days see 3 claimants and every day I learn about different conditions and medications. I like the bonuses we receive and the incentives we have. Everyone is very friendly; the managers, HPs and the Unit Coordinators.”
"I began working in PIP in 2014, pretty much when the benefit was first introduced and was still all fairly new. I wasn’t working for PFAS, though, but for one of our Tier 2 providers. Having previously worked as a mental health nurse in secure, inpatient settings, what drew me to a career in PIP is probably what draws most people – lack of shift working and a nice, safe office environment! What has made me stay are the vast amount of opportunities that this career has provided me with - I was made CSL (still with our Tier 2 provider) in 2016 and moved over to PFAS (still as a CSL) in 2017. In 2018, I was given the opportunity to be RCM for then Region 3 and then changed to the role of Audit Lead in 2019. I am currently awaiting my transition back to being RCM again! Every day is different and I am constantly learning about different medical conditions and medications, something I would not have necessarily encountered had I remained a mental health nurse. In addition, due to the opportunities I have been provided, I have learned a lot about management and the business side of things – again, experience I would not necessarily have gained as a nurse. Most of all, I still get to fulfil the reason I became a mental health nurse in the first place – to help people – PIP is such an important thing to so many people and by providing our claimants with a thorough, comprehensive assessment and report for the DWP, I feel like I’m really doing my bit. PFAS really look after its workforce; on top of the professional development opportunities, there are several company benefits we have access to. In the 20 years I’ve been working, PFAS is by far the company I’ve spend the longest time with and hope that continues for many years to come!"
"I’m a qualified Paramedic and worked on the front line for the London Ambulance Service for 5 years before wanting to move my career as a health professional in another direction. A fellow Paramedic friend of mine told me about how he had started working for PFAS conducting PIP assessments, following a conversation with him about the role I applied.
My initial post with PFAS was at one of the London sites as a Functional Assessor, I found the company and staff very welcoming and enjoyed the new challenge the training presented.
I enjoyed the change of working in an office environment, working sociable hours Monday to Friday which allowed a better work/life balance and utilising my clinical knowledge, decision making and analytical skills in a different way. After getting to grips with my role as a Functional Assessor I moved into the role of Clinical Lead for my site, this is both a clinical and a managerial role working closely with Functional Assessors at the site, all sites have their own CSL. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working as a CSL and really enjoyed the variety of the role and the new skills it afforded me. The opportunity of promotion into the role of Regional Clinical Manager (RCM) came about, I felt it was time for a new challenge and wanted to progress my managerial career. As RCM I look after Region 1 which comprises of our 2 London sites which are our largest sites in PFAS.
Working for PFAS has not only allowed me to progress in my careers as a medical professional but also as a manager.
I really enjoy being a part of PFAS as there is such a positive, supportive culture. Good ideas will always be listened to and put into practice.
The staff are central to PFAS, the managerial support and vast array of benefits really shows this."
"My favourite parts of my role at PFAS is the ability to work independently (trust from employers) & the people I work with. I work with people who come from all walks of life and have varying degrees of experience – and I have learned so much from all of them. In just a few years here, I have learned and developed more in the past 3 years than I could have ever imagined. I have learned responsibility, patience, leadership skills, and so much more. I take on daily tasks and challenges that I always try to give my 100% to. Every day and every claimant is a different experience and each day I am presented with new challenges and situations, which really helps me to stay focused and interested."
“I was working as a General Surgery Nurse in the NHS before joining PFAS. I needed a career change and was interested to learn about being a PIP assessor after researching the role. I arranged to meet with one of the Regional Clinical Managers for PFAS to understand a little more about the role, this gave me the reassurance and motivation to apply for the role. I am very glad I changed career and joined the PFAS team and I feel very supported and a valued member of the team. There are great benefits included and I generally feel privileged to be part of such a great company. I enjoy the work hours and having my weekends free for family time. I would recommend to anyone to Join PFAS!!”
I have only ever worked for the NHS, so found it a little daunting to be working for a private company and not doing a clinical based role. I felt I would miss my ‘hands on nursing role’ but the NHS was changing and not always for the good and my home life required more of a stable balance between life and work. I was drawn to the PFAS role as this was offering what I needed, a work life balance of having weekends, bank holidays and Christmas’s off, as well as a good wage and for me the biggest factor, a chance to develop within my role. I found working for the NHS was positive in some ways but they were not always keen on developing an individual into a higher role, even if they were already doing this role, just without being paid or recognized for this. However, this has not been my experience within PFAS , from day one I have been supported and have progressed to a management role within the space of a year and know I could maybe progress further, if a role comes available that is suitable for my situation.
Since working for PFAS, sadly my health has changed and I went from being mobile and generally healthy to being disabled. However, throughout these changes I could not of asked for better support from all my colleagues, which I do not feel I would of got from another company. Any equipment or changes that I have needed have been discussed and put in place where suitable. For me the people I work with, from various sites and the support I receive, this has kept me working for PFAS. I do also enjoy my role as it is varied and allows me to use my medical knowledge and support other individuals in their roles.
"Once upon a time there was a Mental Health Nurse/ Perinatal Nurse who had been qualified just over 2 years, working long hours working at her local hospital; working shifts which did not suit her work/life balance as she had once hoped. She ventured on to work within the community, however, the grass did not seem greener on the other side. One evening she opened up her laptop wishing it was a crystal ball so she could see some light at the end of the tunnel. There it was; in the light of the glowing laptop an advertisement to work for PFAS as a functional assessor; she applied through a recruitment agency, which was completely alien, however low and behold, she received a call for interview shortly after the application, that sparkle started to appear, a glimmer, but this was something new and unfamiliar to her previous job roles.
As all new beginnings cause that excited nervousness, she packed her few possessions and began stage 2 training, this appeared to be a daunting trek, the unknown; however the company and professionals were amazing, they welcomed you in to feel relaxed which optimised my learning environment. It soon became apparent that the two weeks had passed; she was ready to begin her new career…
I am now in my 17 months of working for PFAS as a company and I can openly and honestly say, “I have not looked back”. I have worked within a company which is professional, structured yet is able to possess a ‘family’ like atmosphere; continuing to use my professional knowledge and opportunities to further my knowledge through CPD funds and training. I am in a role in which I feel heard, empowered and fully supported and appreciated for my work and efforts. No longer feeling like just a number, this is a job role which promotes a healthy work/life balance. For many other reason’s these are my priorities in life, and this is what has kept me working for PFAS. Options to work overtime at my own choice which suits my work/life balance. The opportunity to grow within the job role is encouraged throughout and recently have had the privilege of becoming a clinical support lead; also celebrating others successes within the company; which shows how as a team PFAS encourages growth in its employees and this is something I wish to be a part of."
Before gaining employment with PFAS I had been working for an Armed Forces charity for 10 years, helping Veterans with health conditions get back into employment using a combination of my clinical knowledge, coaching techniques and psychometric assessment, I really loved my job and it was a real shock when I was made redundant. I was drawn to PFAS quite frankly because I needed a job as soon as possible, and I believed that I had the knowledge and the resilience to do be able to do the role, and thought it would be a stop gap until I found myself another job. My role was initially split between Eastbourne and Croydon and I have had the pleasure of working with a variety of people at both sites, but the main reason I’m still here is because of the team I work with on a day to day basis. The Eastbourne team are incredibly friendly, supportive and full of knowledge, and it continues to be a great pleasure to work with them all, including the unit co-ordinators who are an integral part that we could not manage without! During my 2 years in the role I have been able to build on all my knowledge and experience to be able to deliver my assessments to a high quality, and am now looking forward to using this experience to assist others in my new role as Assistant Clinical Support Lead for Region 3.
Prior to working for IPRS I worked on an acute specialist Neuropsychiatry and Brain Injury unit for 5 years. This gave me extensive knowledge and experience in caring for physical, mental health and cognitive conditions as part of an integrative team. I then moved to Australia for 2 years to gain international experience. I worked as a psychiatric nurse in a private hospital caring for a plethora of different mental health conditions which heavily involved robust risk assessment and implementation of personalized care plans based on a holistic approach framework.
There were a few things that drew me to this job role. I liked the autonomous nature of the role and that you are provided with your own caseload each day, being a goal orientated person this suited me well. I also liked the working hours and the locality of the role. I was looking for a change in direction for my career as I had worked in acute psychiatric nursing for 7 years. This job provided a good balance of clinical and non-clinical practice which complemented what I was looking for.
The good thing about PFAS is that it is a small company and not what I would consider to be a ‘larger machine’. The beauty of a small company is that they are more personalized and you get to know your colleagues on a more individual basis, rather than just being a cog in a larger machine, new ideas and opinions are listened to and valued at all levels and changes are made, if appropriate, in line with these. There are also plenty of opportunities for personal development and growth within your role and within the company which keep the role interesting.
I initially started with PFAS in July 2018, I worked in the HP role for 9 months during which I gained a wealth of clinical knowledge and experience through completing daily claimant assessments and I learnt to exercise good time management. I was then promoted to Clinical Support Lead in April 2019 and still currently work in this role. As part of the CSL role I have taken over management of my site, gained a greater understanding of company targets, gained a greater understanding of HP performance in line with company targets, developed my management/communication skills and increased my clinical knowledge further. Having worked as a Clinical Support Lead for 18 months I have recently been promoted to Regional Clinical Manager which will begin in October 2020 and I look forward to the new challenges and skills I will learn and develop to be able to perform effectively in this area.