Helen Rooke, a qualified nurse for 18 years, shares how her nursing career has progressed since she joined the private sector
I worked for the NHS for nine years, mainly in care of the elderly, and became Ward Manager for a discharge planning ward - the first of its kind in the south of England. I mentored student nurses too.
The ward made a difference by freeing up beds, taking patients who were medically fit for discharge but needed occupation therapy or physiotherapy input prior to being going home safely.
I made the difficult decision to leave the NHS when the trust I was working for decided to close my ward due to funding issues.
The last patient to leave my ward was actually assessed by the general manager of the local Barchester care home and we just got talking. I was interested enough to put forward my details and was contacted by another Barchester home that was looking for nurses - and that was that.
The first time I saw the home, my first reaction was “Wow I want to work here!”
“As soon as I walked in it felt calm and peaceful - nothing like the tense atmosphere you often feel when walking into a hospital”
As soon as I walked in it felt calm and peaceful - nothing like the tense atmosphere you often feel when walking into a hospital. I did have initial fears of becoming de-skilled in a care home setting, and I can honestly say that for the first three months I wondered what I had done.
I had taken cuts to both my salary and my pension, but being happy and content in your working life is about much more than just pay, and I soon realised it was the best decision I had ever made. I did miss my colleagues in the NHS to begin with, but I certainly didn’t miss the ongoing stress nurses are put under.
“You don’t stop being a nurse just because you work in a care home”
It is a myth that being a nurse in a care setting is for nurses who can’t “keep up” in the NHS or a stopgap for those who want to retire soon. You don’t stop being a nurse just because you work in a care home; it is certainly not an easy option. It’s a busy role and requires a wide range of skills - no doctors, no multidisciplinary team; just you making decisions in consultation with the resident and their families.
For me, working in a care home allows me to be the nurse I want to be.
With Barchester, I get to look after residents with chronic and complex conditions in a homely environment. I get to know the person (not just their bed number) and their history.
Some of our residents have led such fantastic lives, you build relationships with their families and the home becomes one big family.
If you had asked me where I would be and what I would be doing when I left the NHS, I would never have predicted the outcome. I have been fully supported by Barchester and encouraged to develop myself - any training course I’ve wanted to attend, I have been able to take.
All nurses need their skills updating and this is something Barchester takes seriously, investing in its nurses with induction mentors, regular supervisions, and training to ensure skills are up to date.
“If you had asked me where I would be and what I would be doing when I left the NHS, I would never have predicted the outcome”
My career has developed greatly in the nine years I have been with Barchester; my professional development has been what I have made it.
I joined as a nurse before being asked to become Home Trainer, which involved care team supervision, training and assessing. More recently I have become a Regional Support Nurse for a group of Barchester homes on the south coast.
The role involves working alongside General Managers, Regional Directors, Care Specialists and nurses to support homes that have been highlighted for additional support to deliver their care programmes.
“My aim is to guide nurses to realise their full potential, which will ensure our residents get the best nursing care they deserve”
This is a varied role that requires planning and leadership skills in addition to being a skilled clinician.
My aim, ultimately, is to guide nurses to realise their full potential, which will ensure our residents get the best nursing care they deserve so they are able to enjoy their lives with us. I am proud to be part of a company that strives to evolve its care delivery. To any nurse considering making the move to private care, I would say, do it!
Quite simply, Barchester allows me to be the nurse I want to be.
For more on career opportunities at Barchester contact: Tessa on 01608 645831 or 07776 6147170; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit barchesterjobs.com