Behind the scenes: A day in the life of an RCN Wales Associate Director

 Nicky Hughes 10 Jul 2020

I’ve been a member for over 30 years, but it was only after I started working for the Royal College of Nursing earlier this year that I began to fully appreciate what it actually does! The RCN is both a professional body, promoting education, training and best practice, and a trade union. I oversee the trade union element of RCN Wales’ services.


Many of you will be familiar with the work/home life juggling act. My typical working day starts with getting the chores done and taking the dogs out for a walk. It’s good to get out for a breath of fresh air before all the meetings start. At the moment my days are packed with video calls and sometimes it’s difficult to get a couple of minutes for a bathroom break, so I share your pain on that one.


I try to keep some time free for reading and checking emails and then I can go from looking at a member’s case and discussing with my team about how best to proceed, to meeting with the Minister for Health and Social Services. I never thought Vaughan Gething would know my name – how life changes!


Much of my time during the pandemic has been spent working with colleagues across the RCN to develop position statements to provide information and resources to our members on issues like personal protective equipment (PPE), looking after yourself, safe prescribing and verification of death. View the RCN’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage.


Before lunch I squeeze in some time to work on my professional column for The Western Mail. That’s not something I’d imagined I’d find myself doing in my lifetime and had to have a good giggle at that one. And yes, I did buy a copy of the paper for all members of my family!


I attend the Welsh Partnership Forum and its sub-committees. This is a tripartite meeting between the trade unions, NHS employers and the Welsh Government. We’ve been developing the FAQs around terms and conditions and we have been very strong in demanding issues such as fair pay, safe working conditions, fair and consistent approaches to redeployment and the taking of annual leave. Although this is an NHS-based meeting, we have been lobbying the First Minister for the same approach to be taken in the care home sector and will continue to advocate for those working in those areas. View the NHS Wales COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for NHS Managers and Employers on the NHS Confederation website


A media query comes in and I’m briefed ready for a phone interview on BBC Radio Wales, giving the RCN Wales response to the Welsh Government’s proposed changes to lockdown rules. Then it’s time for more chores and getting the dogs out for another walk before I finally get to relax at around 8.30pm when we sit down to eat.

This is just a snapshot of my duties – I could go on and on. My role within RCN Wales is a busy, challenging and rewarding one, but none of it comes close to what it must be like working on the frontline during these difficult times. I am in awe of all the nurses and carers who, now months into the pandemic, continue to show resilience and commitment.

I’m looking forward to getting out and about to meet you in your workplaces – maybe then we can swap our individual stories over a cuppa. But for now, I’d love to hear what your typical day looks like. Please tweet me – @nichughes1 – or email

As always, take care and be kind to yourselves.

Nicky Hughes

Associate Director of Nursing (Employment Relations) RCN Wales

Nicky has 30 years experience of working in the NHS in the specialities of inpatient acute medicine and the community setting, where she managed frontline services such as District Nursing, Prison Nursing, and those caring for the homeless and asylum seekers. In addition she commissioned care from the nursing home sector.

Page last updated - 14/09/2020