Evan Keir has been elected as your representative on RCN Council. We find out a little more about him and his plans
Why did you become a HCA?
I am proud to work as a HCA in mental health. I want to be clear, I want to be a HCA, not a registered nurse. I want to make people understand that it’s OK to choose to have a career as a HCA and not be constantly be asked if they want to become a nurse.
I actually started my nurse training a few years ago but after the first year I knew it wasn’t for me.
I drifted around in different jobs for about six months but found myself pulled back to mental health – my mother and my uncle were mental health nurses and my aunty is a HCA working in the mental health field so that may have influenced me.
I want to make people understand that it’s OK to choose to have a career as a HCA
I still had a strong interest in caring for people so I applied to the bank in 2013. Three years ago I got a permanent HCA post on the intermediate care unit at Midpark.
Why did you get involved in the RCN?
I’ve always been an activist. We can all be ambassadors for a cause we feel passionately about. My mum is a rep so when I joined the RCN she encouraged me to get active in the College and this felt like being on very familiar territory.
I enjoy standing up and advocating for what I believe in. In 2016 I became a safety rep and I became a steward in 2018.
Why did you stand for RCN Council?
First of all, I don’t like to see a seat uncontested in an election. That deprives people of a democratic choice. But I also want to get the message across that HCAs should have a bigger role in the RCN. I want parity of esteem for HCAs in the College.
What do you mean by parity of esteem for HCAs?
I want to see the RCN leading by example – proving that we are truly valued by giving us equal opportunity to participate in all roles in the College.
Right now there are too many positions still only open to registered nurses. Unless we address this, we’ll continue to struggle to recruit HCAs into our union. There’s nothing inherently unique in nurse roles that mean that they should hold most positions in the College.
How do you think you can attract more HCAs to the RCN?
We need to look at what the RCN offers HCAs. Currently most of the RCN’s validated learning and education sessions are aimed at registered nurses – this needs to change. We have an opportunity to make this change.
We must remember that HCAs are low-wage workers and the cost of membership is a factor when it comes to recruiting new members.
My long-term plan is to be a rigorous advocate for HCAs within the College
Although comparatively we’re the most affordable union, we still lose members when they have to make cutbacks because they can no longer afford membership.
What are your priorities for 2019?
With Brexit on the horizon, we'll really need to be on top of things to protect the profession. I suspect there will be a lot of fire-fighting to do in the short term but my long-term plan is to be a rigorous advocate for HCAs within the College.
Right now, why should HCAs join the RCN?
The health and care system would grind to a halt if it wasn’t for HCAs but all too often we’re left out or poorly represented when it comes to important decisions. The RCN, as the voice of nursing, is the voice of HCAs. Every HCA should be part of this.
The RCN, as the voice of nursing, is the voice of HCAs. Every HCA should be part of this
How will you find out more about the members you're representing?
As HCAs we do so many different roles and I won’t pretend to understand every single one of them.
But I would welcome the chance to find out more – so tell me about your roles (email firstname.lastname@example.org) or let me know if you’d like me to come and see what you do. I’m here to represent you and I’m looking forward to doing that.