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'Don't be disheartened by a nursing home placement'

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How different can a nursing home placement be from a ward placement?

It turns out, very different!

A concept that has not appeared to sink in with me yet, just two weeks into a nursing home placement, is that the environment in which we are nursing our clients is their own home.

As student nurses we are guests within the residents’ homes, and it seems a million miles away from the environment of a ward, in which patients are told what to do, when to do it, whether they like it or not.

While that may sound a little harsh or extreme, wards are seemingly run in accordance to the staff and their daily duties.

The patients, no matter how long they may be resident on a particular ward, are away from their home comforts, and no amount of family photographs or get well cards can change that.

As student nurses we are told to encourage patients on a ward to ‘get out of bed,’ ‘have a sit in your chair,’ or ‘go and sit in the dayroom,’ all in the hope to improve mobility and general wellbeing, whereas in a nursing home if a resident refuses to get out of their pyjamas, sit in bed watching “Deal or No Deal” all day, then that is their choice.

This is after all, their home, in which within reason they can do as they please.

In terms of learning, so far I can honestly say my experiences have been limited at the nursing home, other than the occasional medication round.

But what I am not learning in terms of clinical skills I am compensating in learning about this new environment.

While the clinical skills so far have been minimal I have been encouraged to get to know the residents, learn about their conditions, meet their families, plan their future care and even go out on daytrips with them, all of which work towards delivering complete holistic care.

To those who may be allocated a nursing home placement in the future, don’t be disheartened before you even begin. We all have certain expectations, and while some of them may have been true, it has so far been a pleasure to get to know clients in a calm, environment that isn’t regimented and routine.

Jenny Wilcock is a second year adult nursing student at the University of Leeds.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am a first year student and some would say unlucky in my placements as 2 out of 3 placements have been in care homes and I have not had the opportunity to work in a ward. My 2nd placement was very limited in learning - in fact the nurse really did not take anything to do with students. However my 1st placement was markedly different. It was based in a young diabled unit and I learnt a huge amount. The nurses being very different and really interested in the clinical skills I could learn about. This included changing supra pubic cathethers, peg feeds and administration of medication through peg feed, dressing changes and an excellant learning curve of communicating with residents who could not verbally communicate their needs. Not all nursing homes will have great clinical experiences but I enjoyed getting to know the residents and understanding how living in a nursing home can be very difficult for some residents. I like to think thatthough I maybe not learn clinical skills, it will all enhance my abilities when I qualify as a nurse

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