Celebrating nursing in social care

Ros Heath

Ros Heath, Landermeads and Anita Astle, Wren Hall Nursing Home

Nurses in social care have long known that it is not a career chosen lightly, that it is one which requires real passion and the desire to enhance quality of life as well as meet clinical needs. It attracts a certain sort of nurse and, more recently, nursing associate. Unfortunately, there has historically been a misconception among some that nursing in social care is a second-rate form of the profession.

This film is the myth buster (watch the video here)

Filmed in Nottingham it features two nursing homes and showcases the incredible opportunities there are in this sector. It was started just before Covid-19 hit but the vast majority of the scenes are during the epicentre of the outbreak. Like so many care homes and home care agencies, these nurses faced the tsunami of the virus unprepared and initially unsupported and it is testament to the spirit of nurses in social care that the passion for their work shines through. We see the emotional bonds, ability to connect with people and heartfelt compassion but also the very real pain of unnecessary loss.

The film explores the various routes into nursing in social care. The Apprenticeship Scheme has opened the doors to care staff who missed the opportunity in their formal education to access and ‘earn while you learn’ through the Nursing Associate Apprenticeship. Staff who had long since abandoned any hope of progression now have the opportunity to realise their dreams. The film features members of staff who had previously worked as a mechanic, in a supermarket or simply had years as a care assistant and celebrates with them that they now carry the experience they have gained into this new nursing initiative. Once qualified, they then have the opportunity to carry on and complete the full nursing degree. In social care this is a win win situation – the staff become accredited nursing associates but the skill they bring is founded in a genuine understanding and passion for people with long term support needs. They are able to balance their new clinical skills with an appreciation of relationship focussed care.

There is a need for nursing in social care to be promoted in education, so it is viewed as a viable alternative to working in the acute sector. One of the nurses in the film explains that she was in a nursing home on placement during her degree and never looked back. It goes on the explore how effective relationships and collaborative working can transform this role. In a world dominated by Covid-19 this is surely one of the most pertinent messages – we need to work together as a whole health and social care sector to provide holistic support.

A Return to Practice nurse shares her story, telling us how she left nursing for personal reasons, became a ‘postie’; and then was attracted back by the national campaign to bring nurses back to the profession. Simply, she explains that this is where she belongs and where she can make a difference.

Nursing in Social Care is a celebration – it is a chance to share with potential nurses that we come in different shapes, sizes and experiences but that we share the absolute passion for what we do. It is a passion which we want to share. Covid -19 has opened eyes to the importance of the sector and given us a voice; we need to use it to tell everyone how great it is to work in social care.

Anita Astle

Anita Astle, Wren Hall Nursing Home

I began my nursing career specialising in burns and plastic surgery nursing. I loved caring for the ‘whole person’, meeting physical need alongside emotional, social and economic need too. I loved supporting individuals and caring for their wounds which often took 3 to 5 hours. I was proud to work collaboratively with multidisciplinary team colleagues to secure the best outcomes for and with those we were serving. I was touched by the support and level of respect given to my colleagues and I by the media and the wider public, who valued the contribution colleagues and I made..

On entering the care home sector I was shocked by how perceptions changed: the perceptions of NHS and Local Authority colleagues, the media and the public of me as a professional; of the colleagues working in social care and of the work we did. It was as if the work I was doing was worthless, irrelevant and beneath the majority. I vowed to change this, and I remain committed to this mission 30 years later.

We were not valued nor were we respected. We were criticised loudly and publicly. I found this distressing and soul destroying. This was further compounded when the Commission for Social Care Inspection 2003 changed the status of Nursing in Nursing Homes from being health care nursing to being social care nursing. As a Registered Nurse I had never felt isolated, alone and devalued as I did then 

This video showcases the difference social care nurses make. It’s about compassionate skilled nurses, their passion to improve the quality of the lives of those we serve and the strong relationship they build to achieve magical moments. Our video showcases clinical expertise being used yet that is just one component of social care nursing. Other key points are supporting individuals to live well, not merely exist with their long term conditions; fulfilling dreams and aspirations even as one nears the end of one’s life and valuing people for who they were yesterday and are today.

What a privilege to be a social care nurse!

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