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My Story as a Complex Care Nurse

Aside from working in the hospital and care/nursing homes, do you know that there are other sectors where you can practice your nursing profession? Meet Cheryl, a Regional Nurse Manager for HASCS, a complex care specialist provider. In this week's article, Cheryl shares with us how it is to work in this sector including its benefits & challenges.

My name is Cheryl. I am an ITU nurse by background both in the Philippines and in the UK. After few years of working in the hospital, I wanted new challenges and started exploring for new opportunities. So, I went to a non-traditional sector of nursing- complex care nursing. Before taking on the role, I had little knowledge about this sector. I had an interview with a Complex Care provider whose Chief Operations Officer happens to be a Filipina. During our discussion, I learned more about sector and the company including how the COO founded and started the company. I was in awe and felt proud. It also made me realise that there are other sectors we, nurses, can specialise in other than hospitals and care homes.

Complex Care Nursing is a specialist service provided to people with health and social needs. We specialise in a wide variety of conditions and complex care needs from brain injury, stroke, spinal injuries, neurological conditions, motor neurone disease, air management needs, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, physical disabilities, genetic conditions, developmental delays and learning disabilities.

As health professionals in this sector, we give support & care to patients to enhance their quality of life at the comfort and security of their own homes. Our role as nurses is not only centred on providing immediate care but also in promoting our client’s independence, social involvement, wellbeing and quality of life.

Some would say that our roles are similar with community nursing. Yes and No. Yes, it is similar as we provide the service in the community setting or the client’s home. However, unlike traditional community nursing roles, our patients do not vary day to day or from each shift. We provide care and give our utmost attention to our one and only patient that we see every shift. As a healthcare professional it is a privilege for us to be able to understand our client and their families more as we look after them in their homes and not in a traditional clinical setting.

Our Typical Day

For our nurses, their daily activities are centred on carrying out care plans based on personalised needs of our patients. The care plan would guide the nurses and carers what they need to do daily. This will include personal care, administering medication, nutritional needs and helping them with their daily activities.

As a Regional Nurse Manager, I oversee the care packages in my patch. I manage a team of nurses and carers within the London region. My day-to-day activities can vary but ultimately, my role is to provide support & direction to my team.

Benefits of Working as a Complex Care Nurse

There are several benefits when working as a complex care nurse. First is the remuneration it provides. The salary and benefits package are highly competitive especially if compared with the traditional sectors.

Another benefit of working in this sector is having good work life balance. My main reason why I chose this job is because of the flexible working hours. I have young kids and being able to plan my diary in advance is very important for me and my family.

Being able to establish good rapport and getting to know your clients well, including their families, is also a plus. Since our nurses are accountable to only one patient in any given time, they are more empowered and capable to give a high level of care. We do not compromise with the quality of care we provide our clients.

Opportunities for career growth is also available in this sector. Our nurses and HCAs can move their way up to Management positions, such as Area Managers similar with my current role. Another pathway available for nurses would be to become a clinical lead.

Challenges of working as a Complex Care nurse

Adjusting to this new way of working is the initial challenge a nurse can face in complex care. As I previously worked in a hospital before, I was used to working within a team. I had to learn how to work independently & manage a remote team.

Building rapport with the client and their family actually goes two ways. On one hand knowing them can be of great help however it may also be the first challenges our Nurses and Carers face. It is important for us to gain their trust. Once we have established the relationship, then we can work better and with ease whilst the client and their family see the results and be delighted with our care.

How to become a Complex Care Nurse

To be successful in this sector, one must possess the core skills and character of a nurse, have the relevant experience, and possess the right attitude.

Core skills of a Complex Care nurse are the same as any nurse in the conventional clinical settings. Being compassionate and caring is a must as our clients are often vulnerable and have complex needs. Having good communication skill is advantageous and empathy is also important in this role. Listening is also paramount to the job because everyone wants to be heard, hence, give that opportunity to them. It is easier to take care of the client and have their family’s support if they know that their nurse understands their situation.

Being a lone worker or working in a small team, complex care nurses are expected to take on a leadership role and be assertive. There will be times where nurses need to make & implement critical decisions for the care of their clients.

It is key for our nurses to have experience working in either a hospital or care home sector. It is also beneficial to have previous experience working with vulnerable patients with complex care needs. However, if a nurse joins our team and does not have the experience, we provide training and continuous support for both new starters and current members of our nursing team.

Advice to other fellow Nurses

If you are looking for a different challenge outside the limitations of the walls of a hospital or a care home, then consider complex care nursing. Complex care nursing is not only a great opportunity for better remuneration but it also offers a brand of care that does not compromise on quality and provide a positive impact on the day to day lives of clients who needs our care and service.


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