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Making care special


The 6Cs run through the veins of student nurse and care maker, Sam Wallace

“Being a nurse is a blessed opportunity.” The talkative future nurse doesn’t doubt that he has chosen the right career path. Sam Wallace didn’t always think of nursing as a profession however, he studied drama before pursuing volunteer work and a position as a care maker, which he describes as “the most rewarding work I’ve ever done”.

An incident that inspired Mr Wallace’s interest in volunteer work and becoming a care maker was his two-year-old niece slipping into a coma. When she recovered, Mr Wallace began to seriously consider volunteering. “The people responsible for my niece’s care were kind and compassionate, they saved her life and our family from devastation. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to support people who were vulnerable.”

As part of the care maker campaign, Mr Wallace was one of 50 chosen out of 250 care makers to attend the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in Manchester last year. It was here the movement for the Compassion in Practice strategy began. “I understood what a blessed position I was in. I couldn’t take it lightly. We needed to do whatever we could to make the conference a success.”

Mr Wallace also recognises the 6Cs as a factor in his own success. “The care maker campaign helped me to remember the 6Cs and what they stand for, as well as their importance to being a care maker and a nurse. The two I most relate to would be care and commitment, I try to live by them everyday.”

However, Mr Wallace realises there is criticism that surrounds nursing and the NHS. “It’s about saving people’s lives. It is a job that is extremely challenging. You have to get out of bed every day committed to what you are doing. It isn’t about ‘do as I say,’ it is about ‘do as we do together’. We have to have the courage to stand up when things are wrong.”

One of the most affecting experiences Mr Wallace had as a care maker was at the Southampton Dementia Unit, where he worked with older patients with mental health issues. “It was clear that this particular patient was never going to get better. He had only hours to live. He had no one to comfort him in the last hours of his life. I was encouraged to make him comfortable, so I sat with him and held his hand. I’ll always remember his smile.” It was moments like these that Mr Wallace knew that he was doing something special.

Mr Wallace believes that all health professionals fundamentally have the same duty to uphold the 6Cs. “There is no difference between care maker and nurse; one is not the same without the other. I consider every health professional to be a care maker.”

Taking on the academic work as a student and becoming a care maker has not always been easy; one struggle Mr Wallace has faced is his dyslexia. “It is an additional stress, so I have to keep myself organised. I have to trust myself. It’s a matter of putting it into work and rediscovering how to learn; then I can really expand my mind.”

Despite obstacles, Mr Wallace has enjoyed the different placements he’s had during his training. “I love every placement that I’ve had so far. I don’t know where I’ll settle; I want to go in with my eyes open. I am interested in coronary because the heart is the centre of everything. It controls everything else; nothing else would work without the heart. I also like the emotional attachment that the heart represents.”

Mr Wallace will qualify in the summer of 2015. On his future qualification he says: “I am grateful for this opportunity. I have never taken it for granted.”

Dakota Smith


Readers' comments (4)

  • Congratulations on your commitment and enthusiasm Mr Wallace. However you will find that compassion also needs adequate staffing levels in order to be able to give all patients the level of care and compassion they deserve. You cannot do this when as has been reported, you are the only nurse on duty caring for 15-30 patients with high care needs. Unfortunately such scenarios lead to the most highly committed and caring nursers suffering from burnout, stress, and all too often their own health suffering as a result. Its time for managers and chief nurse to practice what they preach and care for nurses too. But all too often it is a case of "do as I say and not as I do".

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  • needs to start with care for colleagues, solidarity and forming a strong interdisciplinary team so that each member is acknowledged and valued and made to feel they are making a positive contribution and offered support in areas where they are less experienced.

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  • michael stone

    I must wonder - as an outsider, but one has read quite a lot of 'NHS stuff' - if Sam won't find at some point that 'NHS Protocols' get in the way of his 6Cs' instincts ?

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