From Enrolled Nurse to Home Manager: 22 years in the care sector
Talk us through your career journey at Bupa.
I joined Bupa in 1998, working at The Arkley Care Home as a State Enrolled Nurse. Then in 2005, I completed the Adaptation to Nursing course and became a Registered Nurse. I worked in that role for 6 years, and during that time, supported with training staff at The Arkley as well.
In 2012, an opportunity came up for a Deputy Manager at another Bupa care home, St Mary’s. I was ready for the next step, so I put myself forward for the position and my application was successful. I worked in that role for about 9 months and then another Bupa care home, Wellington Park, was looking for a new Home Manager and I applied. My application was successful and I worked in that role for 2 years before it was sold to another provider. When the home was sold, I didn’t want to leave Bupa and there was an opening for a new Home Manager at Field House Care Home, so I applied for the role. I started at Field House in 2014 and I’ve been the Home Manager here ever since.
What kind of support have you been given to progress?
Over the years I’ve had a lot of support. It was my manager at the time who suggested that I complete the adaptation course and supported me through that. I’ve been given opportunities to take on new responsibilities such as training; I’ve done various clinical courses to update and maintain my skills and I’ve completed the Level 5 Leadership and Management qualification. There’s a lot of support available here from both the people in your home but also from the wider business as well.
What’s your favourite thing about being a Home Manager in care?
My favourite thing is seeing people get better so they can go home. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible, but in those circumstances, it’s about making our residents comfortable and caring for them the best we can. There was one gentleman I’ll never forget. When he came into the home, his family had been told that he only had about 6 weeks left. They lived in Northampton, so his wife and daughter would travel every other day to see him. We cared for him here and he lived for an extra year on top of what was originally said to the family. We were able to give them that extra time and that’s really special to me.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time in care?
There was a lady in her 40s that we cared for with really complex care needs. Her parents couldn’t get her to go anywhere, and she wouldn’t associate with anyone. Before I worked at Bupa, I trained as a State Enrolled Nurse in mental handicapped. One of the GPs we work with knew my background and asked if I would meet with this lady (and her family) and assess if we could accommodate her needs at Field House.
She started to visit the home for 2 hours per week, which then increased to 2 long days, then respite for weekends and eventually she became a permanent resident. We were able to bring the whole of MDT together to work in her best interest. At one point, she became really unwell and had to go into hospital. I went to visit her and the team there were struggling to get her to eat. It was because she didn’t know the team and the nurses wouldn’t always be the same people, so she wasn’t comfortable.
Volunteers from my team went in to see her 3 times a day and sat with her to make sure that she ate. She knew these people, and they knew her, which is the beautiful thing about care. Those relationships that we build with our residents are so important. My team were amazing, we went to MDT, and she was discharged back to my care. She did pass away not long after, but unfortunately, due to her health conditions, that was always going to be the outcome.
What I’m most proud of is how we improved her quality of life. She went from not wanting to interact with anyone to moving into the care home full time and building these great relationships with myself and my team. If we’d not done those things, she may not have come out of hospital and her family wouldn’t have had that extra time with her. She’s someone that I won’t ever forget.
We generally hear a lot of misconceptions about working as a Nurse in a care home. It would be great to get your thoughts on the most frequent ones we hear.
You lose your clinical skills when you work in care.
I think you double your clinical skills – especially at Field House. We have a lot of respite residents, many of whom have multiple conditions and complex care needs such as Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Mitochondrial Disease. Care Home Nursing should be a specialism - from mental health and stroke signs to epilepsy and pressure ulcers, you have to be ready to manage various care needs. It can be daunting at times, you’re responsible for the clinical needs of our residents and, a lot of the time, it’s your call. You have support there from management but there’s a lot of autonomy if you want it.
Working in a care home is an easy option.
Absolutely not! At times, we have really challenging cases in care. You have to be an all-round nurse. In a hospital, you usually specialise in a certain area, but in care, you have to be able to manage multiple conditions at once. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were like a mini hospital - we had 9 residents with complex care needs and 28 residents in total, all with different needs to manage at the same time.
There’s no progression for Nurses in care.
My journey proves that’s not true – there’s opportunities if you want them.
Working as a Nurse in care is boring.
God no! I don’t get chance to stop (April laughs). During the pandemic we had to update families, doctors and manage the care for all our residents. Of course, the pandemic made it busier than ever before, but this is what nurses in care have to manage all the time.
Why should other Nurses come and work at Field House?
We’ve built a strong team here, it’s a fun place and everyone works together to the achieve the best for our residents. I’ve been through the journey, and I can support people to develop and progress if that’s what they want. Since I started at Field House, I’ve been building my team and we’re now in a great position and always welcome new faces. It’s a real family here and I’m so proud of every single person in my team.
Inspired by April’s story? Then you should consider working as a Nurse in care! Find out more below!