We talk to Alicia Lucas, matron for patient experience at University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust, who qualified as a nurse in 1992.
Why did you become a nurse?
Nursing was in my family - my mother, auntie and, unusually, my uncle were nurses. I was a nursing auxiliary during college holidays, which made me realise it was what I wanted to do.
Where did you train?
North Manchester General Hospital, or Crumpsall Hospital.
What was your first job?
At the infectious diseases unit at Monsall Hospital.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
I learnt a lot about myself on the RCN leadership course. I have learnt much from my manager, deputy chief nurse Kimberley Salmon-Jamieson. She is keen to develop staff, is supportive and has a passion for nursing.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Take time to talk to patients and relatives. Be involved in all your patients’ care so you really know them. Each is an individual with lives, families and friends; sometimes we forget and don’t see the person in the bed.
The chief nursing officer’s 6Cs embody what a nurse should be. Some people have those attributes naturally
What keeps you awake?
I am responsible for the complaints and PALS service, so I read about things going wrong. Mistakes happen - we need to learn from them to improve the NHS for others.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Motivating staff to believe that patient experience matters. I trained some nurses recently and showed some of our video stories. Seeing staff connect emotionally with the patients and families on the screen is always a powerful moment.
What is your proudest achievement?
Gaining funding from the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement for our real time video stories project. The most satisfying part was helping a family, who had made a complaint, make a film about their daughter’s experience of healthcare. The film is now shown for medical students’ communication training. Undertaking the film gave the family some control over what was a very difficult situation.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Nursing post-Francis is becoming more open. We will see much more transparency in how we work and how we communicate that to patients.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I almost became an art therapist.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
A senior role in nursing.
What makes a good nurse?
A caring, compassionate and empathetic person who takes time to listen to patients and relatives. The 6Cs embody what a nurse should be but I do think some people just have those attributes naturally.
If you could change one thing in healthcare what would it be?
If all NHS staff recognised that each patient is an individual and treated them consistently as such, that would be a start.
What is your ideal weekend?
My husband and I recently went to a Northern Soul night at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and danced the night away. Although I did have to wear a knee support the next day!
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings to chat about her career.