Managing a care home for former seafarers is exactly the right position for Anne Kasey
With 33 years’ experience with the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Anne Kasey is an expert at working with seafarers and their families.
She didn’t want to be a nurse at first but joined a friend who did when she went to the local hospital. After passing the exam, she decided to stay. Her friend left after five weeks.
“As soon as I got out onto the ward I just felt that was the place I was meant to be, helping people when they really needed it,” Ms Kasey says. “Even by doing the smallest things, you could see it really meant a lot to people.”
After training in 1975 and working in the NHS for eight years, Ms Kasey moved to the Royal Alfred and never looked back. She’s climbed her way up from staff nurse to the clinical manager at the home.
The Royal Alfred began in 1865 as a place for older seafarers with no homes or job prospects. It has since grown from five merchant seafarers to accepting those from the Merchant Navy, Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and fishing fleets.
When Ms Kasey first started at the Royal Alfred, she says many of the residents had no one visiting them and the staff became their family. While that is no longer the case, the feeling of closeness and level of camaraderie has remained the same, despite the size of the home.
Even though the home is in Surrey – a bit of a distance from the sea – its occupancy has always been high, says Ms Kasey. And its diversity and size are what she thinks make it such an interesting place to manage.
We pride ourselves on making end-of-life care the best it can be – it’s such an important time to make a difference
The home has 68 beds, 25 sheltered flats and a staff of 110 people so managing it means Ms Kasey isn’t able to work hands-on with residents as much as she would like, but she always makes an effort to get involved with end-of-life care.
“We pride ourselves on making end-of-life care the best it can be because it’s such an important time to make a difference. That time and care is what family and friends will remember,” she says.
Ensuring that residents get the correct clinical care, establishing links with the local community, supporting relatives and communicating openly with staff are just some of Ms Kasey’s many day-to-day responsibilities.
As such, she sees staff communication as one of the most important aspects of her job.
“I think that if staff feel included and understand your aims for the home and where you’re trying to go, then they’re much more likely to follow along and try to reach those aims,” she says.
And those aims are simple but important: provide residents with the best experience they can at this time of their lives, and give them a warm and safe environment to be in.
The lack of resources for care homes, however, can be difficult to contend with and occasionally causes problems with achieving those goals, Ms Kasey says.
“I’m a great advocate for the NHS but, as we all know, it’s down to money. Because we have a large dementia unit here, I can see the problems that exist with mental health, particularly when it comes to people who have dementia getting the support and resources they need.”
“I think that if staff feel included and understand your aims for the home and where you’re trying to go, then they’re much more likely to follow along and try to reach those aims”
Throughout her long career with the Royal Alfred, Ms Kasey has seen many seafarers come and go – nursing so many different people has been a high point for her.
“So many of our residents have such traumatic lives, with their adventures at sea or with the Merchant Navy or Royal Navy. They did so much for us in the war and being able to help them in their later years has been a highlight,” Ms Kasey says.
Despite the occasional mundanity of her work, she believes that working for the Royal Alfred has always been for her.
“I wouldn’t say my nursing career has been a very dynamic one – in fact it’s been very basic. But I have loved every minute of it and I feel I have done exactly what I was meant to do with my life.”