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YVETTE: PSYCHOLOGIST

Yvette Kusel arrived in east Kent in November 2014 – via Australia, Japan, Germany and London.

The clinical psychologist for older people decided to make the move after becoming fed up with the dirty, built up environment in London.

The 48-year-old was also looking for a career role that would offer more opportunities at a senior level.

Yvette said: “I’ve moved around quite a bit in my life but had been in London since 1999. It was dirty, built up, I’d get stuck in traffic and, career-wise, you felt in a rut  as there were precious few  senior level positions.

“I wanted a better quality of life.”

Yvette was working at Springfield Hospital when she saw an advertisement that sparked the chain of events that would bring her and partner David, who owns a loft conversion and house extension business, to Kent.

She said: “I saw a job. It was the wrong level for me but it gave me the chance to know who to contact as head of department, so I emailed her. Someone had just handed their notice in and so she immediately got  in contact with me.”

Yvette accepted a new role with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust covering east Kent with a base in Folkestone but it was the Royal Harbour town of Ramsgate that was to become the couple’s home.

Yvette said: “One of the things that drew us here was the architecture. We have bought a beautiful Regency house that there is no way we could have afforded in London. We have a sea view and, at the end of the road, a blue flag beach. We enjoy being able to walk around the Royal Harbour and to walk along the beach  to Broadstairs.

“I’d been here on a short trip before but didn’t realise there were so many sandy beaches all around Thanet, Botany Bay is one of our favourites.

“We’ve both taken up running which we couldn’t really do in London without stopping every five minutes to cross busy roads. And people are really friendly here, in contrast people often don’t have time to talk with you or give you good service in London.”

The Royal Harbour is also an attraction as the couple, who have four children between them, are both keen sailors. It is also where they tied the knot in 2015.

Yvette said: “We had the legalities at the register office but then a more fun, humanistic ceremony at the photographic studio with a relaxed reception/party at The Arch Bar  next to it.”

The surrounding Kent countryside has been a revelation.

"I have more freedom to implement new ideas and to get involved in more service and policy changes"

Yvette said: “As you leave Ramsgate there are fields and farms and it makes you think about where produce comes from and buying locally. We buy directly from an asparagus farm and it’s great to  see it growing in the fields.

“It’s easy to drive around, and park, too, there are so many towns that are not far away. But if we don’t want to drive we can just walk to the pub or somewhere for a meal.”

Professionally the move has allowed Yvette to recently take a higher post and get involved in a greater level of management.

She said: “I’m supervising and managing more staff, seeing clients, running groups and getting involved in policy and structures as pathways are changing across the Trust.

“My role in London was more restricted, here I have more freedom to implement new ideas and to get involved in more service and policy changes.

“I work with a team who are reflective and supportive of each other. We look at how we work and trial working in other ways. If it doesn’t work, then we will change again.

“There is opportunity here to meet with people from other teams, so there is less silo working and it is more joined up.”

The professional path has been varied. Yvette qualified as an undergrad in neurobiology, gained a DPhil in psychology of language and then worked in research.

She and her first husband moved to Sydney where Yvette worked in academia before starting a family.

The family then moved to Japan where Yvette’s husband was a researcher before, with the addition of a second child, moving to Germany.

The return to London signalled a move into mental health field for Yvette.

She said: “I started to do various research projects to get some experience with different mental health populations including schizophrenia and learning disabilities . I’m interested in how the brain works, how cognition works, how we process information and what happens when that goes wrong.”

Part of Yvette’s role now is working with people diagnosed with dementia and leading service user groups such as the SUNshiners in the South Kent Coastal CCG.

She said: “The SUNshiner group members provide  support for each other but aim of the group is also about fighting the stigma of dementia. People in the group are involved in research, look at policies, some have published books or blogs.

“It is great to learn from them and be inspired by them.”

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