Could you tell us about your career?
I started my career as a carer in Leicestershire, where I worked for 16 years. I moved to Kent and worked in agency and I joined mental health services in 2000. I was with my manager one day when he asked why I had never done my nurse training. I explained that I wasn’t clever enough and we had a long discussion around my skills. The following day he presented me with two applications - one was for seconding me for nurse training, and the other was for Canterbury Christ Church University. I was successful with both and to date I still express that he put me forward to get me away from the team!
So I started my training in 2002, and I carried on doing bank shifts within the trust. I loved my nurse training - each area was the area I wanted to specialise in. Once I had qualified I decided to work with the elderly. I moved over to forensic briefly but my heart was with the elderly, so I applied to be a care manager with social services. This was a fantastic experience. I became a best interest assessor for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, and would go into different homes with issues. I could see that the nursing staff were undervalued in society and the feedback I was given was that burnt out nurses would work in nursing homes. I could see that this wasn’t the case at all. I was given the chance of becoming a matron in a home, which I took. After two years I moved to my position I hold now.
What do you like about working in the independent sector?
Nurses within the independent have to think outside the box rather than be task orientated. There is no doctor walking around, no occupational therapist, no physiotherapist - even though these can accessed, nurses have to intervene. A nurse orders medication, where in hospital the pharmacists would deal with the stock control. The list goes on…! The day never pans out as you expect as there will be something that changes that you need to solve.
When did you first sign up to become an RCN Rep and why?
When I was doing my training and working on the bank I was chatting to a nurse on a night shift and we got talking about the RCN. He was so passionate about the RCN that I asked if I could join and within minutes I was signing up to become a Steward. I am of the belief that all staff working in health and social care need to be in a union as it is a fantastic resource. The learning has been immense and I would recommend anyone to sign up and become a Rep in an area that they are interested in. I have achieved so much and met some fantastic people over the years. I think every nurse should attend an event that the RCN organises as you come away feeling empowered. I have attended the Joint Reps Conference, media course, and of course Congress. You are given so many resources and opportunities that you may never experience otherwise.
What are your future plans with the pathway to become a RCN Learning Rep?
I would love to be still a Steward but due to a conflict of interest this is not possible so now I am starting a new role with the RCN as a Learning Rep. I am looking forward to passing on my vast experience to new members of the team and to nurturing up and coming staff, and encouraging staff to join the RCN. I hope the knowledge and skills that I am able to give staff will empower them and help them to recognise their potential.
- Could you become an RCN Rep? Find out more about the opportunities these roles can offer.