We talk to Gráinne Wokes, manager at Care UK’s Jubilee House in Surrey, who has been a nurse for 14 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
From the age of 14 I worked as a volunteer with people with learning difficulties. I loved it and decided to become a mental health nurse.
Where did you train?
Thames Valley University.
What was your first job?
It was on an acute mental health unit at Ealing Hospital.
What trait do you least like in yourself and why?
Perfectionism. Sometimes - the bit I do not like - I drive others as hard as I drive myself.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
The ward manager at my first job. I saw him go into a room with a disturbed, aggressive young man. Later, they calmly walked out. Azize knew the man was religious and he discussed the Koran with him. He explained to me that our duty is to get to truly know all our patients and team members because that shows us how best to serve them.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Learn everything you can from everyone, regardless of job title. Be willing to learn and to make mistakes and, most importantly, have fun - it is a great profession that should be enjoyed.
What keeps you awake?
Very little these days. I may think about an unsettled resident. In my early days, I’d fret about everything as I replayed the day.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Getting involved with activities and seeing residents’ faces light up. We had a marvellous new year party with champagne, poppers and lots and lots of food. The photos show just how much the residents enjoyed themselves, and those happy faces have been a pleasure and comfort for the families of those who are sadly no longer with us.
I would change the blame culture that makes people scared to take a chance or use their initiative
What is your proudest achievement?
In the early days, getting someone to stop trying to commit suicide. The next was staging a musical for people on a secure unit. At Jubilee House, developing an excellent team.
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
Qualifications will change as nurses take on more roles from doctors and become more recognised as a profession.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
My father always said I’d be a waitress or a bartender and he is probably right. As a student I worked in a bar and I loved talking to people and had a knack of dealing with drunks.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
It would take more than five years, but I would like to be Care UK’s director of nursing. That would let me influence care and training across the company.
What makes a good nurse?
Having heart and passion and being able to use energy and initiative for your patient.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
The blame culture that makes people scared to take a chance or use their initiative. As a profession, there is not enough celebration and too much condemnation.
What is your ideal weekend?
Time with my husband spent on archery or canoeing.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Tricky - either Garth Brookes or Meatloaf - can I have half an hour with each, please?