Aside from the NHS, one of the common industries nurses work for in the UK is in the Care Homes.
How is it different from working in the hospital? What are the challenges in this industry? How can I move and work in this sector? -- These are the questions we aim to answer.
I am Shannon, originally from Baguio City. Unlike most nurses, I started my career in a non-traditional sector. I worked as a company nurse and had no hospital experience back in the Philippines. I wanted to work overseas in a pursuit for a better life. Back then, recruitment agencies were very strict and would require nurses to have at least 1-year hospital experience. This did not stop me from looking for work abroad. I decided to try my luck and apply directly in the hope of being offered an overseas job. After rigorously searching and applying for roles, I finally got an offer from a care home in the UK.
What it's like to be a Care Home Nurse
Some people think working in a care home is easier than working in a hospital, but I disagree. There are also unique challenges as a care home nurse, essentially, you always have to keep in mind that “Our residents do not live in our workplace. We work in their home.” Establishing a safe and caring home for our residents is a priority, being the person in charge to maintain this kind of environment is our big responsibility.
For instance aside from performing my duty as a nurse, I also oversee and ensure that our staff carry out their tasks properly such as safe moving & handling techniques, provision of the correct diet and fluid consistency to all residents, carers documentation, and so on. As most of our residents have chronic health conditions, cognitive impairments, dementia, and poor mobility, our roles demand us to be quick, calm and have the ability to think on our feet. Aside from taking care of our residents, there are also instances where I, as a nurse need to manage difficult families/relatives. Caring for the Residents, Managing Carers, Dealing with Relatives-- you can just imagine how dynamic and challenging my role is a Care Home nurse.
What My Typical Day is
Since I am a day shift nurse, I usually arrive at work by 07:50 in the morning and my typical day starts with settling in on my desk in the nurse’s office then reading the diary for my To-Do list for the day which can often be medication chase up, referrals, wound reviews, social worker/professional visits, care plan update, and so on.
In our unit, we start handover by 08:00- During this time, staff are given their allocation and tasks.
By 09:00, I start my morning medication round, this generally takes me about 2 hours depending if there are any interruptions such as urgent care needs or telephone calls. Afterwards, I carry out the tasks I need to do according to the diary and routine writing on residents’ daily notes. In our care home, we also have a daily general meeting to discuss updates in all departments, where unit managers or nurse-in-charge, kitchen staff, activity coordinator, clinical services manager, administrator, and care home manager. The meeting starts at 11:30 then usually ends after 12 noon. After the meeting, I carry on doing my tasks until 13:00, then I start lunchtime medication which takes me around 30-40 minutes as this round has lesser medications.
The rest of the afternoon will be mostly allotted to wound dressing changes and receiving medications from pharmacy. Last medication round for the day is the Teatime round that I normally start at 16:30 till 18:00. Thereafter, I continue to finish my notes, and accomplish my handover sheet (which has around 7 pages! Gah!) This handover sheet contains daily medication audit, resident changes, resident care plan audit, staff allocation record, and resident activities. By 19:55, I relay my handover to the night staff and that's it for the day!
Opportunities Available and Career Pathway
There are great career opportunities available in a care home setting. A staff nurse can progress to become a Unit Manager, Clinical Services Manager/Clinical Lead, Home Manager, and other managerial roles in the care home company. Exposure to the care home setting can also open opportunities to other sectors too such as roles in Palliative Care, Nurse Assessor, Tissue Viability, and District Nursing.
What it takes to be a successful Care home Nurse
To be a care home nurse, you should be equipped with much independent nursing knowledge and skill as there will be no other healthcare professional with you. You need to have good clinical judgement and decision-making whilst considering person-centred care. Being a care home nurse demands oneself to always practice and keep in mind the 6 C’s in nursing care. Additionally, one should also maintain a good working relationship with the staff, as you will encounter various work attitude, work ethic, and personality. Consequently, this will also test your leadership and management skills- giving proper guidance and support to the team is essential. Also, if you set your heart to become a nurse, learn about the demands of the role, commit to expand your professional development, and equip yourself with the NMC Codes of Conduct.
I can say that I'm thankful that this opportunity has been presented to me. Being a care home nurse can be very demanding but it has made me a better nurse. My experience gave me the confidence that I can achieve whatever I want as long as I believe in myself and persevere.
About the Writer:
Shannon has been a UK Registered Nurse for over 3 years. A graduate of Eastern College in the Philippines.
To know more about life as a care home nurse, follow Shannon at her You Tube channel- Shannon Faye Signey
‘‘It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.’’ - Norman Schwarzkopf