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'As a nurse leader, your role is to empower your team'

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The support of a spine is imperative to stop us falling into a crumpled heap. In a similar way, having support and encouragement to be and do our best is imperative for us to provide successful care.

minu mathew

minu mathew

Minu Mathew

As a registered nurse working in a care home I know that even when working on my own, I still need a good team to support me. They are the core of my daily ability to meet the expected standards.

Care home nursing is a challenging area of healthcare. While many people see us as simply custodians of routine and tasks, we are so much more than that. The role demands thorough understanding, knowledge and clinical skills in different areas of care. It also requires commitment, enthusiasm and the ability to work autonomously.

“Care home nursing is a challenging area of healthcare”

Being involved in the Teaching Care Home pilot has given me the opportunity to listen and learn, observe and reflect. I want to be better at what I do, a better leader, better role model and overall a better care home nurse, so the opportunity to step away from the home and learn with colleagues from across the country in our development programme has being beneficial. It’s helped me to realise that my leadership impacts on the care team every shift we work together. 

I see my role as important in ensuring the unregistered nurses I work with are motivated, keen to learn, able to challenge themselves and to challenge me. After all, the unregistered nursing workforce are the unsung heroes of the social care sector. Without them we could not do our job, our residents would not get what they need and the whole industry would be in chaos. They act as the eyes and ears for the registered nurses.

“The unregistered nursing workforce are the unsung heroes of the social care sector”

Not one member of the team has it all. But as a team we can be strong, flexible, adaptable, able to play to our strengths and to support each other in the things we are less able to do. The great thing about a team is the diversity within it which means we can respond to the differing needs of our residents and, if well-led, we can use all our strengths to be the best.

I see my role as that leader and role model and aim to help each team member in their unique contribution to the team. To do this, I need to set the tone, be clear on the team’s vision and ensure that I really know my team in order to get the best from them. We all learn and respond in different ways and I have been using reflective practice to help us to learn from the work we do each day. We all consider and evaluate if the actions we have taken that day have brought us to the right conclusion for the best interest of the resident. The team values appreciation from their leaders and I aim to always acknowledge good work.

“We all learn and respond in different ways”

I have learnt that it takes time to change, but step-by-step I can see how we can move and improve and the changes we are seeing already are positive and enabling. I am excited about leading this change.

Empowering the people you work with simply by giving them permission to try things out makes a long, hard shift much more fun. I encourage the team to ask the “why not?” question rather than first seeing the barrier to change, and to avoid the response ”because we have always done it like this”.

“I encourage the team to ask the “why not?” question”

Empowering the team to take reasonable and rational risk is in contrast to oppressing their creativity, their solution-finding skills, and their freedom to express an opinion.

Our home also doesn’t support a ‘blame culture’ and we embrace practices like reflection to learn from mistakes if any happen. We also utilise ‘appreciative enquiry’ as a tool to reinforce the actions that went well for our beloved residents and we promote sharing positive success stories to enhance the spirit of the team.

Being is leader is fun, particularly when you support and nurture by providing supervision that seeks the best in everyone. Support and supervision are core to the care home nurse leadership role and it’s a privilege to see your team flourish when it’s done well.

Minu Mathew is clinical lead nurse at Rose Court care centre, Radcliffe

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