We talk to Helen Goldsmith, clinical nurse lead for Local Care Force, Leeds, West Yorkshire, who has been a nurse for 28 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
I had a stay in hospital when I was a child and was enamoured by the experience. You could say I was hooked and soon after started to nurse my teddies in beds, complete with bed charts.
Where did you train?
Ipswich School of Nursing, Suffolk.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse on an elderly mentally infirm unit, extremely hard work, not a hoist to be seen in those days, but I loved it.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I have a tendency to worry about the little things that can always be easily sorted. It’s frustrating.
Whom have you learnt most from in your nursing career?
I have worked with some incredibly inspiring staff and patients, but I will never forget Sister Block. She ruled with a rod of iron, had a beautiful empathic “bedside manner” and was a fountain of knowledge, along with being an awesome nurse.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Good, accurate documentation is so important. Remember, if it isn’t documented, then it didn’t happen. Try to enjoy what you do, empathise with the people you nurse - never forget how they must feel. Nursing is a demanding, but fantastic and rewarding, career choice.
What keeps you awake at night?
Apart from my partner’s snoring, nothing really. I have a rule. I put my worries in an imagery drawer every night and don’t open it again until 8.00am.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Being clinical lead for Local Care Force, I am fortunate that I can support agency nurses, working with them to make them feel secure and protected. Having this level of clinical support from an agency isn’t common, and they appreciate it.
Good, accurate documentation is so important. Remember, if it isn’t documented, then it didn’t happen
What’s your proudest achievement?
Ella and Ryan, the most amazing young people who I am proud to say are my children.
What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Without a doubt, the ageing population will have a profound impact on nursing. It will also place a massive demand on the private health sector.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I would have loved to have been a dentist.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Continuing as clinical nurse lead for Local Care Force. I would also like to work alongside the Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing and Midwifery Council on agency nursing and its development for the better.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
The 6cs, but life experiences, including being a “patient”, really helps.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Compulsory dementia training for all, from the chief executive down to housekeeping. There is a lack of understanding regarding dementia care and I would like to see this change.
What is your ideal weekend?
Time with my partner and Alfie our terrier, with wine, curry and rest. This equals heaven.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Florence Nightingale. I’d love to know what she would think of nursing in 2014.