Meet the Team: Mandy Gallagher

Mandy Gallagher is Schools Advisory Service’s Head of Nursing. With twenty years experience, including working in hospitals and in District Nursing, Mandy is an experienced health care professional. Here she tells us more about her work and SAS’s health and wellbeing services.

What does your role at SAS involve?

I’ve been working for SAS for four years now and have led the development of the wellbeing services for schools over that time. I also lead a national team of nurses who work with SAS’s client schools regionally, providing health and wellbeing support and developing plans of care for individuals where appropriate. Ensuring a high quality service for schools is important for our team – the nurses are based regionally so they know their local area well and are able to develop ongoing relationships with schools and individuals.

What does health screening involve?

Health screening is available to all SAS client schools. It involves our nurses visiting the school and providing confidential appointments to staff who wish to have a range of health indicators checked, such as Body Mass Index, cholesterol levels and diabetes checks. The sessions help to encourage greater awareness and prevention of a number of frequent health issues seen in schools – including stress and joint problems – and are completely confidential. We’re also increasingly being asked by schools to run stress awareness workshops, and these can be delivered as part of an induction or training day – potentially alongside the health screening.

What other support do you provide?

Part of SAS’s approach is to provide support, where appropriate, to those staff in our client schools facing particular long-term health difficulties – either ensuring they can maintain their work as far as possible or, if on sick leave, return to work as soon as it is appropriate to do so. We work with those individuals to put together a plan of care, which varies depending on the individual and the condition. For example, if someone is managing joint pain or back problems, we may work with them to find the right course of physiotherapy – helping them as far as possible to manage and overcome their health issues.

What changes are you noticing in schools?

For us as nurses, it is clear that wellbeing is higher up the agenda for school leaders than ever before. Schools – quite rightly – are becoming increasingly astute at ensuring they receive the highest quality of service and achieve value for money in all areas. We’re increasingly seeing School Business Managers taking a lead on wellbeing and championing it amongst staff. They recognise their staff are such an important resource and that wellbeing matters to the success of schools.

What inspires you about the work that you do?

I’ve found the ideal job because when I was younger I either wanted to become a teacher or get into nursing. I think both professions have a strong element of service and that was very attractive to me. Working with schools, and helping adults to be as healthy as they can be to teach and inspire children, is a real privilege.

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