Fadzai Beatrice Mashingaidze is a wife, mom of two teens and a Safeguarding Children’s Nurse. She is passionate about empowering parents and giving children the best start in life.
Through her initiative Intentional Parenting she blogs her thoughts and experiences on motherhood and provides a forum for parents to talk face-to-face or virtually about parenting in the diaspora. Her belief is that educating and supporting each other as parents on parenting and facilitating conversations on the subject are necessary.
She’s served as a Panel Member for the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards, is a prayer warrior and intercessor at heart, serves in the children’s ministry as a Sunday school teacher for 6 to 8-year-olds in a multi-cultural church, is a primary school governor and firm believer in the power of collective collaboration in influencing policies affecting children, young people and their families.
What’s the difference between a Safeguarding Children’s Nurse and a Social Worker?
We certainly do collaborate, but social workers focus on the social aspect of the child’s care and family dynamics while safeguarding children’s nurses (SCN) provide holistic healthcare for young people, aged 0-18, in the community and how that can be optimised using a range of other services. For example, we can access details of all the admissions of children across the health system, linking all attendances together and so ensuring the best care and…safeguarding their health.
How long has the role of safeguarding nurses been around?
The role was a recommendation of the Laming Report on the murder of Victoria Climbie, which highlighted that one of the contributing factors to her death was that there was no way of linking all her multiple presentations to different emergency departments and realising that there was a serious problem…and communicating that to the community services.
Where do you fit in within the NHS machinery?
We are employed by NHS Trusts and most trusts would have their own SCN. Others may have to share. We are office-based, and you’ll usually see us in emergency departments; essentially our key role is to support young people aged 0-18 who use acute services like accident and emergency.
Walk us through your career path Fadzi.
So, straight after my nursing degree I went into surgical nursing for about a year. I’d really enjoyed my surgical placement as a student where the Ward Sister was very dynamic and enthusiastic, and she became my mentor as well. She inspired me, so, I was looking for a similar experience.
However, I quickly got frustrated because of staffing issues, management and lack of support so I looked for a role that could give me that. I moved into adult intensive care nursing which I did for 5 years. I loved that too – the support, the opportunities for learning; it was fantastic.
But after a while I became a little despondent. I would talk to my rehab colleagues and ask about some of our patients who had been discharged into rehab and I’d hear that they were still there…6 months down the line. Then I thought to myself, ‘What are we doing?’ On top of that my son was about to start high school and I needed more flexibility. So, I decided to become a health visitor, which I did for 3 years. It worked well – it was a blessing; I was working locally, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 and so I could be home when both he and my daughter were home from school.
What was the inspiration to take on this role?
I wanted a role where I could represent those who don’t have a voice, and I wanted career progression. Interestingly wanting career progression within nursing can be shunned upon because you are seen as being ambitious and some think we are not supposed to be ambitious! But I tell people I’m determined and driven as I know what I want and it’s about finding opportunities to get me there. I want to be part of a conversation that questions and that leads to change.
What’s a working day like for you?
My day varies. But essentially what we do is support any young person who uses our acute services. Let me say that most come in for common, run-of-the-mill illnesses. But when a child comes in because they have been assaulted at school through bullying perhaps, with mental health issues, alcohol or drug misuse, the doctor who has seen them would call us.
I then come in and not only also explore the health reasons but also the social set-up of that child, and this is where taking a full social history is important. It helps the doctor do their job properly as well as allows the young person to open up.
We can review all the hospital admissions that child has had, wherever it may be in the country, and make referrals to other relevant services. So, if the child has mental health issues, we refer to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; if there are social issues then we refer to Social Services – whatever support the child needs we seek it.
What keeps you going when the NHS can seem to be such a frustrating place to be?
It can be frustrating! I have had conversations with fellow nurses, black nurses, about why they are no longer in the NHS and they talk of the frustration of having to work twice as hard and in some cases being blocked from achievement and made to feel inadequate. And I get asked ‘How can I move up?’ One thing I say is use your own experiences and look for avenues of support in unlikely places.
The other thing I also say is, like business owners, have a pitch ready! I don’t literally have a pitch ready, but I constantly review where am I on my journey, who can support me, who can I converse with so that when the opportunity comes, I’m ready. And always seek to learn.
So, looks like all your different roles prepared you for what you do now.
The thing with nursing skill sets is that they are all transferrable across the specialities and are absolutely relevant for safeguarding. When dealing with difficult families in the community, I draw on the communication skills that I learnt when I had to give bad news to families on intensive care. Washing and physically caring for patients on intensive care meant I could also do the same if needed for a family in dire straits. So, I encourage people not to shy away from trying different things, from thinking laterally.
Three things you like about your job are…
The learning! I have learnt to safeguard my children too as well as those of others. I love the way the job has widened my worldview. I love the connections and sharing of practice with diverse colleagues. Being in London, I love seeing women of colour in positions of influence.
Three things you don’t like so much about your job?
There aren’t that many things I don’t like! I will say though that the job can be emotionally taxing with some of the situations we see children in. I do miss working with patients at times.
My children think I can be intense too, which I’m not sure is a good thing!
You have an online forum called Intentional Parenting – that sounds really great.
I’m a community giver at heart. In the area I live, we have a very tight-knit Zimbabwean community to the point where we can walk into each other’s houses and will know where the knives, forks and plates are! The feeling of belonging that came with that made me feel comfortable about reaching out and putting my thoughts about the whole parenting thing out there.
So, I blog about life as a mother, a working parent and a wife. I share musings on Instagram and I get parents together to talk all things parenting.
Share some parenting tips with us.
Be present. Children want the simple things from us – our time and our emotional presence. Be open and willing to be in their world.
What’s a parenting ‘no-no?’
I don’t think sleepovers are a great idea. We did allow our son who is the eldest to have them, but we don’t with our youngest. But it’s not because she’s a girl, it’s because back then with our eldest, we didn’t know what we know now!
Next for you is…
More collaborative work. I believe it takes a village to achieve anything. This year I am focusing on speaking engagements to raise the profile of Intentional Parenting and reach more people. I have attended two successful events and have a couple confirmed for mid-year, which I am praying for and am excited about.
We have been nominated for the ZAA Community Champion Award, and I’m honoured to be acknowledged. I am hoping that people vote as that continues to shine a light on what we are doing.
What to know more about Fadzai and Intentional Parenting? Go to:
LinkedIn: Fadzai Beatrice Mashingaidze
About The Laming Report: