Swaran’s Blog October 16
This is a very challenging period for our sector within social care, with issues regarding funding and workforce shortages as major concerns. We have highlighted to our strategic partners the fact that we have a considerable vacancy rate for nurses employed within our sector and are looking with our partners at trying to address this issue in the short, medium and long term. There is no easy answer!
This made me think about my nursing career and the reasons why I commenced my nurse training many years ago in 1978. In those days I was young, fit, looked like Jesus with long hair, dressed in cheesecloth shirts and I pretended I was from the hippy generation whilst the punk scene and drain pipes were the “in thing”!!
In those days I wore my hair in a bun, with two Kirby grips on either side to pin my hair up! I think I got away with this as folk thought I was a Sikh (my background) although a practicing Christian, and in those days I was called Nurse Singh! (Nursing!!!!) OK looking at me now I can imagine it’s hard to believe, as we all change as we get older, but I’ve got the photos as proof, honest!!
I felt drawn to a nursing career due to the compassion I felt for others and wished to ensure that I was someone that could make a difference. It is a privilege and honour to be able to look after someone who is unwell, who trusts me to do and say the right thing!
So often I heard folk saying “I could never do that”, however I believe that each one of us has the potential of showing compassion and care towards others in society, at various levels!
Most of my nursing career has been spent working with older persons in a variety of settings, and I truly believe that the area of “geriatrics” as it was in the old days, is an area of care which has been maligned, forgotten about and devalued by society. Poor funding, complex and challenging work undertaken within social care settings such as care homes and care at home services, needs to be recognised. It requires being valued, attracting proper funding, drawing nurses and carers as a career, and properly rewarded for the work they undertake!
I was recently encouraged to hear about my niece Jen who qualified as a nurse earlier on this year. After a period within academia she decided to take some time out and work within Erskine hospital as a care worker, and the NHS bank as an auxiliary nurse. There were several nurses within her family and with some encouragement she decided to commence her nurse training. She always said that she would return to Erskine, as she believed that that was where her heart lay, working with older clients!
When she completed her training it came as no surprise to me that she decided to work as a nurse within a busy surgical unit to gain further experience as part of her nursing career!
I was disappointed within myself, as I thought yet again another potential nurse was lost from our sector to the NHS, as this has happened on numerous occasions, hence the vacancies within our care homes!
I am conscious that Scottish Care are very concerned about this and are working with providers, strategic partners and the Scottish Government to look at the whole area of nursing, and ask questions about how to attract nurses to work within our sector. Working within a care home can be as challenging if not more so than working within a hospital setting. You still have to deal with the complexities of old age such as dementia and palliative care, and the various infirmities that that brings; working within a pressured, highly regulated environment, perhaps being the only nurse on shift, and also having management responsibilities!! Supernurse comes to mind!!
Well, my story has not finished,. When I was offered the post within Scottish Care, I was excited, as I was coming back to my first love, a position related to nursing and care of the older person (by and large). I am still involved with care, utilising my experience and nursing, my focus being within the social care sector within Scotland. My role is to support the various members and their services, ensure they provide quality care and are fully informed about what is happening within our sector.
Jen’s story is also not finished either! She decided that after enjoying her surgical staffing experience, that she missed working with older folk, and is now working within Erskine as a Registered Nurse within one of their older persons units! Well she was true to her calling of returning to her “auld folk” and I applaud her for bucking the trend and deciding that working within social care is where her heart lies!
The future for her, who knows!! Manager, Matron…….Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland, who knows!!!