Carrie-Ann Black

carrie-ann photo

Head of Nursing for Research and Quality, South London and Maudsley  

I support the delivery of research studies and the development of the research culture and engagement framework within the Trust. 

What is your working day like?  

Every day is different! I feel very fortunate to have a real mixture in my work.  One day I might be looking at new trial protocols, and another day I might be speaking with people about how we can support them to develop their careers in research.  I am usually thinking more broadly about the Trust’s strategic development in research – particularly its aim to be a ‘catalyst for change’ - including how we integrate our research offer in our clinical offer. We have developed several workstreams to help us achieve this ambition, each requiring oversight and monitoring. Whether I’m out and about at a roadshow talking to service users, or having Teams meetings with clinicians and Research Champions, I really love that my day is diverse. 

Who do you work with? 

I work across the Trust and with many of our partner organisations, including the South London Clinical Research Network and South London Partnership. As the Head of Nursing for Research and Quality, I work with other Heads of Nursing and Directorate leadership teams, and manage the   Research, Growth and Development team at South London and Maudsley, where we focus on supporting the delivery of research studies within the Trust, including commercial trials. We also support the research culture in the Trust through the development of the research engagement framework and our wonderful team of Research Champions.  

I also work closely with Tanya Shlovogt (Director of Research Quality - Head of Joint R&D Office of South London and Maudsley and IoPPN), Professor Fiona Gaughran (Director of Research and Development, South London and Maudsley) and Deputy Chief Nurse, Helen Kelsall (South London and Maudsley).  I also collaborate with Alan Simpson, Professor of Mental Health Nursing (IoPPN, Florence Nightingale and South London and Maudsley) and Dr Una Foy, Research Associate, in the Mental Health Policy Research Unit at King’s College London. At the moment we are working on a study exploring what meaningful activities mean to people experiencing psychosis during an inpatient admission to an adult acute ward. Professor Simpson collaborates with our team on raising the profile of research among nurses and supporting those who wish to pursue a clinical academic career. 

I also work nationally on a number of programmes, studies and advisory boards with regards to developing nurses as research leaders.   

What’s your role? How do you enjoy helping bring research to life?  

I can’t unpack being involved in research and being a nurse – being a nurse makes me a better researcher and vice versa; the two are inextricably linked. Although there are differences between clinical practice and research, they’re both aiming for the same thing – to improve people’s lives. It’s incredible that in the Trust we are able to offer so many opportunities to be involved in research alongside clinical interventions.  

The best moments are when you hear how being involved in research has made a difference to someone’s recovery – some of the service user stories I’ve heard range from reducing anxiety through a VR intervention, to new treatments saving people’s lives. 

It’s amazing when a nurse I’ve been supporting gets their research published, or their abstract is accepted for a conference. I love supporting and developing the research leaders of the future at the Trust.  

Why did you want to work at South London and Maudsley Trust? 

I started working here as a student nurse and have been here ever since! I knew that South London and Maudsley had a good reputation and that it had a rich history of research and a close relationship with King’s College London. We have the biggest research output of any mental health Trust in the country. Working in such a big Trust means a lot of opportunities for collaboration with different people. I also think the Trust is blazing a trail in the area of mental health research and I enjoy being a part of the innovation.  

What is your vision for research at the Trust?  

My vision is that every service user is offered the opportunity to take part in research and with that there is parity in the offer and experience. I want all members of staff - clinical and non-clinical – to feel a sense of ownership and pride in the Trust’s research activity, for research findings to be accessible to all, so each and every one of us can articulate with ease the difference studies have made to people's lives. Ultimately, we want to make a positive difference to people’s lives – whether it’s a study about a new medication or intervention, or a study about understanding experiences of specific groups. We want to play our part in providing the best possible mental health care we can.