What has been your most memorable moment during your career in nursing older people?
I qualified as a Registered Nurse for Adults in 1996. Part 1 of the NMC register. I have a Diploma in Nursing, BSC in Health Studies, FdSc Counselling (with commendation) and I am currently studying for my Masters in Counselling and Therapeutic Communication, expected to graduate in the summer 2017. I have been a senior manager/multi-site director for 16 years.
Specific areas of expertise within the older persons - General Nursing, Dementia care, Learning Disability, Acquired Brain injury, Domiciliary Care, Mental Health, Integrative Practitioner in Counselling.
My most memorable achievement was starting my own consultancy business in 2010. I am a Nurse Consultant, Trainer and a Counsellor. I run my own practice based on the York Road in Belfast. I deliberated long and hard and recognised it was a financial risk. I was familiar with working long hours, managing budgets, teams, shaping service delivery and directing strategy and policy for many companies. Once I made the decision I realised it was the right one and I wish I had done it sooner. I now have a core of regular clients who require my services as part of their governance and quality assurance measures in addition to those who have acute short term needs. Many of my referrals come from other professionals and I am humbled by the trust often placed on me to deliver effective change. I have an opportunity to coach and mentor nurses at various levels to achieve positive outcomes for service users and to develop their own career pathways.
I am also proud to be a Non-Executive Director of NIPEC’s council since 2012. I am currently serving another term until 2021. In this role I can provide a contribution from the perspective of the independent and voluntary sector. Currently on behalf of NIPEC I participate in the Recording Care Steering Group, the Independent and Voluntary Sector Forum and I am a member of the Audit and Risk Committee.
What do you value most about nursing older people?
I have worked in the independent sector for most of my career. I have held various roles in Nursing Homes both pre and post qualifying as a nurse and I feel they have equipped me well to function at the level I am now required to do.
To know that you have made a real difference to a patient or residents day is priceless.
To be able to provide excellent, safe, effective and compassionate care and ensure teams are motivated gives me personal satisfaction. Promoting best practice in Dementia Care is close to my heart personally and professionally and I am passionate about sharing that with others.
What motivates you to stay in this field of nursing?
My role is regional and varied. I don’t feel like it’s a job, it’s a vocation. I have challenges like anyone else but overall I can say I am very happy. Developing a key network of skilled professionals supports my work and gives me valuable support in a role that could be isolating. It can be conflicting to juggle necessary financial responsibility with care provision.
I have never felt a desire to work in acute hospital settings. In my brief time there I felt a need to deliver more holistic care rather than acute short term solutions. I enjoyed getting to know service users individually and share their journey. During my career I have been part of many new innovative strategies and new services. I enjoy a challenge. Commissioning new services, turning around a failing service, project managing a specific change process.
What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing older people?
If you can function as a Nurse, Manager or senior Manager in the Independent Sector in a Nursing home you know you are an autonomous practitioner. You can work anywhere. Forget the idea that the hospital is the sexy side of nursing and that a nurse in a care home is second rate. That is a myth. I have had the privilege of working with fantastic nurses who are a credit to the profession.
The key driver in my role is continual quality improvement. Working in collaboration with providers to deliver best practice in partnership with government strategy and stakeholders.