We talk to Terry Bryan, who facilitates transfers of complex, vulnerable people between services in the UK and abroad for an ambulance company, who has been a learning disabilities nurse for 32 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
A friend was a nurse in Bristol. I met some of his friends. I thought it could be something I’d like to do. That was in 1976.
Where did you train?
Stoke Park Hospital, Bristol.
What was your first job?
Staff nurse on Firs Ward at Purdown Hospital. It had 26 teenagers, all complex in today’s terminology. It was controlled chaos with no element of control. I loved every minute.
What trait do you least like in yourself and why?
Thinking everything can be solved with a healthy dose of the giggles.
From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?
Sir Alex Ferguson, on how to manage people, not situations. David Pitonyak, for making us all cry with his stories. A man with an autistic spectrum condition I worked with for 13 years, who taught me how brilliant it could be to have autism and (eventually) not to expect him to appreciate there may be a point of view other than his. I miss him, but he didn’t return my phone calls.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Watch and learn from the good and the bad. Always have a funny story in your back pocket. Search in unusual places for advice and models. Don’t narrow your influences or influence. It’s all over quickly, so speak up, and dance.
What keeps you awake?
How to get myself a permanent job, planning world domination and working out the introduction and that perfect guitar solo on All Along The Watchtower.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Finishing a day where no one got hurt and everyone stayed, positive and went home safely.
What is your proudest achievement?
Being known as the man who said “bollocks” on Panorama. Blowing the whistle at Winterbourne View and opening up the whole culture of abuse to some scrutiny.
I’d like to think nursing organisations will stand up to politicians who think they know more than those doing the job
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
I’d like to think that nursing organisations will stand up to politicians who have the arrogance to think they know more than those doing the job.
What makes a good nurse?
The same traits that make anyone good at what they do. Caring about the people they work with, not always having one eye on promotion. Accepting that working long hours for little reward is a good thing. Oh, oodles of principles.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
Compliance inspector for the Care Quality Commission.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
For people to understand what person-centred support is. No one gets it, but everyone thinks they do. The teaching doesn’t get transferred to practice.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
A game of Dr Who vs Indiana Jones with my grandson. Then, a canal boat in the rain, West End theatre or a foreign film, the coconut veggie dish at Kopapa (with couple of vodka martinis). And an early night.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?