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Ward Manager - Care of Older People

Leadership & Management
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Clinical Practice

Area of Practice

  • Adult Nursing


  • Hospital Care

Job/Role Summary

  • 24-hour responsibility for the delivery of quality care to 28 highly dependent elderly patients within a continuing care unit.
  • Responsibility to ensure the ward is staffed 24-hours per day with staff with the necessary competence while ensuring the correct skill mix is available on all shifts.
  • Responsibility to ensure that patients receive high quality care in a friendly and homely environment.
  • Responsibility to ensure that care, policies and procedures are evidenced-based.
  • Staff management for 33 staff.
  • Risk management.
  • Complaints management.
  • Budget management.
  • Absence management.
  • Quality improvement activities.
  • I also carry out clinical nursing duties as I feel that this helps me keep in touch with the patients and staff.


Specific qualifications and experience required

  • RGN
  • 5 years' experience at grade E or above


  • Recognised Care of Older People course


Career Milestones

I have been in my current job for 18 years, having worked as a Staff Nurse in acute medicine for 10 years prior to this which reflects my personal preference in nursing. When taking up my Ward Manager post, my leadership skills required some development. I have learned a lot from reflecting on my experience of dealing with challenging situations and people. Formal programmes that I gained a lot from include Ward Management Development programmes and a Certificate in Health Service Management. During this course I learned about how the HPSS works, budget management, people management, leadership, managing conflict and enhanced self awareness. Other experiences that I have gained from include being a member of Area Nursing Advisory Committee for 10 years. This has helped broaden my knowledge of the challenges being experienced in other disciplines of nursing and midwifery. The opportunity to advise on issues relating to my own area of expertise and working as a member of a committee have all been part of my ongoing professional development. I have been a part in formulating strategic outlooks on the impact of Government and DHSSPS reports, through consultation responses. I have had the opportunity to take a lead on particular initiatives such as Trust Harassment Investigation Officer, NVQ Verifier, and member of NVQ Quality Assurance Board (Board wide). This has broadened my professional view from a number of perspectives. I became a member of a Service Development Committee to develop a business case for change to the Care of Older People Service. The experience of learning the business planning process and how to develop a business case was challenging and exciting. It was also frustrating when the effort of developing the business case was not approved.


What attracted you to this job?

  • I enjoyed working with older people and developing a relationship with them.
  • I also had previous experience of acting up in the absence of the Ward manager and enjoyed the challenge of the managerial role.
  • Further development opportunities for me in the area of management.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

  • Close patient contact and the involvement of family in the care.
  • The ability to improve care and enhance the quality of life of our patients.
  • Supporting and developing staff.


Important success factors

  • Life-long experience and genuine interest in care for older people.
  • Multi-disciplinary team work within the unit.
  • Support from other Ward Manager colleagues.


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

It would be helpful for you to have a genuine interest in and commitment to caring for older people. Try to be a supportive manager through giving all staff responsibility for personal and professional development. Learn to value staff, as working in this environment can be repetitive and is hard work. You should learn to recognise stress and discord within the team and manage this. Learn to recognise unease in patients and relatives at an early stage and resolve it, but understand that you cannot be everything to everyone. Have a sense of humour. Leadership skills are important and can be developed. This may be something that you want to think about before applying for a post like this. Seek and build a support network for yourself


Key skills that can be gained within this job/role?

  • Leadership skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Budget management.
  • Negotiation skills.
  • Reflective practice skills and recognising the value in this process.
  • Assisting staff to keep motivated.
  • Recognising discord within the team.
  • Handling difficult situations.
  • The importance of staff development and their sense of feeling valued and how this contributes to delivering a quality service for our patients, where this unit is their home.
  • Assessing and managing high-level risks particularly for older people and the importance of having effective systems to identify and manage these risks at an early stage.


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