Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Emerging Talent Award (Non-Clinical)

Neil Toplis

Is a finalist for this award

Job title
Team Manager 
Compass Service 

The nomination said...

Neil joined the Compass Service in September 2017 as Team Manager for the Compass LAAC and Compass Outreach teams, after a successful career as a Head Teacher. This change in career direction has required him to adapt his existing skills and learn a complete set of new ones, and his positive attitude and relentless motivation to achieve this and go above and beyond what is required of his role has been inspirational for the teams.

In his day-to-day work as Team Manager, Neil demonstrates a combination of compassion, hard work, attention to detail, and availability which has benefitted the staff in his teams through feeling heard, well-informed and cared for. He always presents as calm and positive, and willingly gives staff ‘just five minutes’ when they want to talk to him about an issue.

In my role as Clinical Lead, I work alongside Neil on a daily basis to lead Compass LAAC and Compass Outreach together and put into practice our vision and goals for what we want the teams to achieve. Both teams work in partnership with the local authority to deliver outcomes for children looked after, which creates a demanding working environment requiring flexibility, creativity and an enduring commitment to the needs of the children and young people. Neil responds to these challenges with a positive and resilient attitude that I and the teams find inspirational and, in particular, we value his ability to relentlessly problem-solve challenges and keep us focused on what we are trying to achieve, and what is in the best interests of the children and young people whose needs the services meet.

Neil has demonstrated a strong commitment to learning and development during his first year with NSFT. Alongside his day-to-day work he is working to complete his ILM 5 Leadership qualification to further develop his management and leadership skills and continue to build on and adapt the skills he had while working in the education sector. He has shown a strong commitment to attending regular development sessions run by the clinical staff for the teams, demonstrating his willingness to learn as much as possible about working in health and extending his knowledge base for children looked after. This commitment and initiative in finding opportunities to learn and develop is inspirational for the teams, who then also value taking time for their own learning and development and improving their clinical practice.

In his first year, Neil has overseen the continued integration of the CFYP LAAC teams across Norfolk into one Compass LAAC team. This has required significant management and leadership skills which Neil has delivered with sensitivity and compassion for the staff while they have undergone a number of changes in their roles. The team are now functioning as an integrated team and in two recent away days have spoken warmly of their positive feelings both about where they are now but also their confidence in the future vision of the team. Team waiting times for both assessment and intervention for children and young people looked after are continuing to reduce which demonstrates a significant achievement for the team and for Neil’s strong leadership.

Neil demonstrates his key values and principals every day in his work; his teams see clearly his care and commitment for the people he works with and the children and young people who benefit from the services the teams provides. His outstanding qualities are the value he places on honesty, hard work and achieving goals through working and learning together, qualities which inspire the teams to adopt the same values themselves.

He takes time to compliment the staff he works with and looks to point out what they are doing well; however, at the same time is not afraid to have difficult conversations and address sensitive issues where staff have vulnerabilities which need supporting and developing. I work closely with Neil as Clinical Lead, and value the honest conversations we have about often difficult topics; I know Neil will always notice when I have achieved a goal, and equally know that if there is an issue in my practice that needs attention he will sensitively highlight this so I can develop in my role.

The staff appreciate that Neil will always want to learn from them about their roles, and is willing to join them in difficult meetings, and support them where issues need to be escalated in the best interests of children and young people. Finally, the teams and I appreciate Neil’s enduring sense of humour; his capacity to laugh and focus on the positive aspects of the day, and his fantastic collection of both socks and Christmas jumpers.

A clear demonstration of Neil’s commitment to NSFT, the Compass Service and his willingness to embrace his change in career direction, is the recent development in his role to taking on the Team Manager position across Compass Schools as well as Compass LAAC and Compass Outreach. In this he will bring his extensive experience in education to further develop this service and integrate it with the other Compass teams. This development for Neil shows how he has made significant developments as an individual in his first year within NSFT and how he will be an inspiring role model for others in the years ahead.