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Welcome to the Livewell Southwest nursing webpage.  We hope that you find the information useful whether you are considering nursing as a career or if you have already decided that is the route for you.

Nurses make up over a third of our workforce and the role nurses play in Livewell Southwest is a key component to our success. Following a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) we were rated as ‘outstanding’ for care, which is a testament to our dedicated staff.

The CQC said “staff demonstrated understanding of patients care needs and wishes and showed an encouraging, sensitive and supportive attitude to patients”

Livewell Southwest is committed to putting people at the centre of our care, reducing inequalities and providing excellent health
outcomes. We are committed to providing high quality care to the users of our services, and one of the ways that we ensure this is achieved is through the continued professional development of our staff. There are a number of schemes in place to support our staff in developing their skills and careers, one of those being our professional leads.

Our professional lead roles were created in June 2012 to lead on the development of professional practice within the organisation. Each professional lead has a different remit and comes from a different clinical background but common elements unite the work of the team.  The focus is on clinical excellence, safe evidence based practice and continuing professional development, providing leadership and support to staff groups and operational managers across a wide range of quality and service delivery matters.


NMC Proficiencies 

The standards apply form 28 January 2019. After September 2020 only programmes approved against these new standards will be able to accept new students. 

Paragraph 6.2 of the Code requires you as a registered nurse to maintain the skills and knowledge necessary for safe and effective practice. As such, you need to continue to develop your knowledge and skills after initial registration to enable you to work safely and effectively within your chosen nursing scope of practice. This means that you will continue to deepen your knowledge, skills and experience in any relevant areas outlined in these new standards of proficiency.

For revalidation nurses must demonstrate they’re are reflecting and maintaining Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in relation to their scope of practice. Where specialisation requires particular knowledge or skills, the standard required in practice should reflect that requirement. Nurses planning for revalidation should ensure that they remain up to date with the knowledge and skills that enable them to practise safely and effectively and consider their own development requirements in line with the new proficiencies and their own scope of practice.

Employers supporting nurses to meet CPD requirements for revalidation should consider the new proficiencies when discussing with nurses how they can develop their skills and knowledge.

To view the latest NMC standards for Nurses, click here. 


Meet our professional leads …

Dawn Slater, Director of People and Professionalism


Dawn has been a registered mental health nurse since qualifying in 1989. She has worked in private and NHS settings.

Her passion is ensuring that people using our service get the highest quality care. To do this it is imperative that our staff, who are our greatest asset, receive the support to be the best.

Dawn became the executive nurse lead in December 2016 and has committed to the development of the nursing workforce:


  • Development of the trainee nursing associate role
  • Support of the degree apprentice for registered nursing
  • Preparation of revalidation
  • Developing the Education and Development Panel to support CPD for all registered nurses
  • Scholarship programme
  • Implementation of the Queens Nurses – a fantastic initiative led by Coral Styles

Nicky Varker, Professional Lead


Nicky is a registered mental health nurse, qualifying in 1995. She is an experienced health care professional with over 20 years’ experience in acute adult inpatient mental health nursing. She worked previously at the Glenbourne unit in a variety of roles including lecturer practitioner, ward manager and modern matron, before moving to her professional lead role in 2013.

Nicky’s career and extensive experience enables her to support a broad portfolio of services across Livewell Southwest, including community and inpatient mental health teams; she provides knowledge and support to the Mental Health Act Office and chairs the Mental Health Act Governance group. She has worked as a physical intervention tutor for the organisation and coordinates the governance of our physical intervention practical training and theory.

Nicky also leads on Serious Incidents Requiring Investigation and inquests for the organisation and chairs both SI Panels, overseeing completion of reports to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). She is the non-medical prescribing and care programme approach lead for Livewell Southwest. She has been involved in the deployment of our digital patient system (SystmOne) as safety officer.

Nicky has previously been the NICE and clinical audit lead for the organisation. She is the point of contact for the professional forum for mental health and learning disabilities staff, and is developing a support forum for non-medical prescribers within Livewell Southwest.

Helen Sykes, Undergraduate and Preceptorship Lead


Helen is a Registered General Nurse by background, with clinical experience in Coronary Care, Acute Medicine, Elderly Care and Minor Injuries.

Helen has been in her current role since July 2011 and is based on our Mount Gould site.

In 2023, Livewell’s multidisciplinary preceptorship programme was awarded the Quality Assessment Mark by the National Preceptorship team. The Quality Mark is the national gold standard, awarded to organisations in recognition of their compliance and implementation of the National Preceptorship Framework standards, which was launched in October 2022 by NHS England and is the new framework against which NHS organisations must now use to benchmark themselves.

Tracy Jones, Placement and Development Facilitator


Tracy Jones is a Placement and Development Facilitator at Livewell Southwest and supports learners on their placement. Tracy has been a Registered Adult Nurse for 15 years and started her career in coronary care and cardiology. She has gained further experience in an acute setting caring for general medical patients, and patient’s requiring elective surgical procedures.

Tracy joined Livewell in 2015 and worked as a Community Nurse before becoming the first person to work as Clinical Facilitator for District Nursing and the trainee Nursing Associates. This is where she discovered her passion and drive to develop the future nursing workforce.

The 6Cs

The 6Cs are embedded into everything Livewell Southwest nursing and care staff do. They stand for the professional commitment to always deliver excellent care. Each value is equal, not one is more important than the other. They focus on putting the person being cared for at the heart of the care they are given.


Care is our core business, and the care we deliver helps the individual person and improves the health of the whole community. Caring defines us and our work. People receiving care expect it to be right for them, consistently, throughout every stage of their life.


Compassion is how care is given through relationships based on empathy, respect and dignity – it can also be described as intelligent kindness, and is central to how people perceive their care.


Competence means all those in caring roles must have the ability to understand an individual’s health and social needs and the expertise, clinical and technical knowledge to deliver effective care and treatments based on research and evidence.


Communication is central to successful caring relationships and to effective team working. Listening is as important as what we say and do and essential for “no decision about me without me”. Communication is the key to a good workplace with benefits for those in our care and staff alike.


Courage enables us to do the right thing for the people we care for, to speak up when we have concerns and to have the personal strength and vision to innovate and to embrace new ways of working.


A commitment to our patients and populations is a cornerstone of what we do. We need to build on our commitment to improve the care and experience of our patients, to take action to make this vision and strategy a reality for all and meet the health, care and support challenges ahead.

Queen’s Nurses at Livewell Southwest

A Queen’s Nurse is someone who is committed to high standards of practice and patient-centered care. The Queen’s Nursing Institute supports innovation and best practice, in order to improve care for patients. It is a registered charity founded in 1887 which believes in the best possible nursing care for people at home. It works with nurses and decision-makers to ensure that good quality nursing is available to everyone, when they need it. The title of Queen’s Nurse is available to individual nurses who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient care and nursing practice.

For more information on the Queen’s Nursing Institute, click here. 

Livewell Southwest have a number of nurses who have been awarded the prestigious title of Queen’s Nurse …

Jo Beniston
Jo is the district nursing team manager, based in Tavistock, and joined Livewell Southwest two years ago.

Jo said: “After qualifiying as a district nurse and getting my master’s degree, becoming a Queen’s Nurse was my next aspiration. The Queens Nursing Institute champions the role of district nurses and its vision is to achieve high-quality community-based care by promoting excellence, innovation and reform.”

Shona Cornish
Shona is a modern matron in the community nursing team, and is cited as an inspiration by colleagues.

Shona said: “It makes me proud that we are recognised as being innovative and driving services forward.”

Sonia Green
Sonia has worked in the out of hours community nursing team, based at Mount Gould Hospital, for 10 years, and has been manager for the past 18 months.

Sonia said: “Working in the out of hours team is a privilege as patients are often at their most vulnerable during the twilight and night hours. But it can also feel a bit isolating. Being a Queen’s Nurse is a huge honour, and it opens up networking opportunities and chance to share and learn best practice with other Queen’s Nurses.”

Theresa Mitchell
Theresa is a specialist service lead in tissue viablility and continence, and felt that being made a Queen’s Nurse was a reward for her nursing career.

Theresa said: “It helped me to pause, and reflect on all the people who have influenced and inspired me, the people I’ve met over the years, and we don’t often get to chance to do that in our busy lives. It was really valuable.”

Trainee Nursing Associates

The nursing associate is a new clinical role to support the registered nurse workforce in providing high quality person centred care across health and social care settings.

The nursing associate pilot launched in 2017, creating a role which bridges the gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses. It offers a new and exciting nursing role and those who complete the two-year training will be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. They then choose to take a shortened nursing degree to become registered nurses or consolidate their skills in the nursing associate role.

Nursing associates will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable them to support the delivery of nursing care in and across a wide range of health and care settings. It is a specific role in its own right and a genuine opportunity for development.

At Livewell Southwest trainees have experience of both community nursing and acute hospital care, giving them insight and understanding of the patient experience, from home, to hospital and back home again.

For more information on the trainee nursing associate programme and to view the handbook, click here. 
To view the trainee nursing associate newsletter, click here. 

On Thurdsay 28 February Emma Westcott, assistant director of strategy & insight, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), visited Livewell Southwest to meet some of our trainee nursing associates. Emma is responsible for the NMC’s strategy, policy and research and currently leading the NMC’s programme of work to bring the new role of nursing associate into regulation. Emma delivered a presentation focused on the NMC being the nursing associate regulator and what that means, including standards of proficiency for nursing associates and pre-registration. To view Emma’s presentation, click here.

On 23 November 2020, The NIHR hosted a webinar called ‘Introducing the Nursing Associate Role: Early Findings’. To view the presentation, click here. To watch the webinar, click here.

Nursing associates in our workforce

Gill Miller is an organisational development lead, providing strategic direction for workforce and organisational development initiatives, including the nursing associate role, here at Livewell Southwest.

A year after Livewell’s first cohort nursing associates qualified and joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, Gill talks about the impact of the role in her blog, published on NHS Employers website. To read Gill’s blog, click here. 

It’s a really forward-thinking collaborative around a vision of the nursing associate role within the nursing workforce. The fact that we’ve got this group of nurses with a combined vision is just fantastic. It’s quite moving to create something that you hope will work and then see it being really delivered.

This whole journey has been amazing and it is such a privilege to come and hear about your progress and the phenomenal support in these organisations for the project.

Sam Donohue

Senior Nurse, Policy, Health Education England

It’s been amazing to see these trainees develop and flourish, and they have seized the opportunity with determination and real commitment. They’ve been incredible advocates for the role and we’re hugely proud of them.

It’s been really valuable for everyone involved, and I’m grateful to the managers, mentors and team members who have supported the programme and the trainees and made this such a positive experience. It’s been challenging, but teams say they have learned and developed as a result.

Dawn Slater

Director of Clinical Practice and Development, Livewell Southwest