Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Why I nurse older people

I have done a search in Blog land and haven't found anything very positive about nursing homes so I am redressing the balance about the people I work with and look after.

I qualified as a registered nurse in 1984. I was unusual in my set of 90+ student nurses, I was one of the very few that wanted to work in older peoples' care or 'Geriatrics' as it was then. My first job was at Nether Edge hospital in Sheffield on an acute medical ward for older people and I have mainly worked in this area ever since. I have worked in my current home for 8 years and prior to that I was Matron of a small home in South Manchester for 4.5 years, I also did agency nursing in different nursing homes both in Sheffield and here in Cheshire.

I love my work despite the stress it can bring at times - deaths, staffing problems and too much to do and not enough time to do it in. I am passionate about giving the best care I can possibly give. Older people deserve good care. The generation we currently look after have lived through a world war, some of them have lived through 2 world wars with all the hardships that entailed and now, having working hard and saving, they have to pay for the care they receive so they deserve the best. This can be in conflict with the company who are after profit margins. Profit shouldn't be made out of older peoples' care but unfortunately that is the system we have got at present, here in England.

The company say they want the best care too but the system within the company is cumbersome, it takes so long to get new equipment, get things repaired or replaced which can be very frustrating.

Having said that I feel that the atmosphere in our home is very positive and the staff work very hard and are very caring. Every single member of staff is valued for the contribution that they make. Every single resident is loved as individuals and for the contribution they make to the life of the home. We try very hard to employ the right type of staff that have empathy for older people.

We have sad times when residents are ill and die. Staff can be very affected by residents dying, they can attached to the resident and the family. We also have happy times when staff and residents come together and have a good time such as at Christmas.

The staff team can become very despondent when nursing homes come in for yet more criticism, sometimes we feel as if we are very isolated and that we are not valued for our contribution.

I ask that people look beyond the news headlines and don't tar us all with the same brush. Lots of us do care about the older people we look after but we are human and don't always get it quite right but we keep trying, we go to prison if we don't.

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