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Taking on new challenges

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Becoming a Care Maker helped Susan reflect on her role and reassess her priorities

Sue Greenwood_SNT

Sue Greenwood

Completing my application to become a Care Maker made me stop and think about my connection with the community I serve. I realised that although I enjoyed working in a corporate department as dementia lead, I often feel disconnected to the delivery of care on the front line.

That said, I retain a huge sense of pride in the profession I joined over 30 years ago.  Back then, I was an enthusiastic nurse who was going to change the world, but did I really have an impact?

Yes, I really do think I did in many different ways, and in many settings and disciplines of care.

Having travelled quite a bit when I was a Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nurse, moving to a new setting never worried me.  In fact, after a career of moving every two or three years, I regularly feel ready for a new challenge.

When Care Makers were being recruited across the NHS, I was really interested in applying but at that, time it was only open to student nurses. As soon as it was open to all nurses, I quickly submitted my application.

Although I know I have been instrumental in improving the care we provide to our patients at the department on a strategic level, I couldn’t help but feel disconnected when I reflected on my role.

I started to realise that my goals and long term plans were suddenly shifting in a whole new direction. Could I return to practice? Would I be seen as credible? Would I understand the complexities of care delivery today? It had been a while since I had held a full-time clinical role. 

Christmas came and went and I found myself attending my first Care Makers event, which was absolutely amazing. I felt like I had come home to the nursing profession.

Meeting other care makers was a fantastic opportunity and I felt I really did belong. I was impressed with the passion around the 6Cs and the sheer dedication and want from the student nurses to make a difference; it was a real light bulb moment for me.

I needed to return to clinical practice.

I am now almost two weeks into my new role as modern matron for Newquay Community Hospital in Cornwall, and what a great joy it is to be back in a role that’s so fulfilling!

I remember the day I held the hand of a woman who had dementia, she smiled at me and thanked me for helping her, and it was such a rewarding experience. At that moment I knew I had made the right choice.

I am passionate about nursing and immensely proud to be a nurse; I look forward to the challenges of my new role and the people I will be working with. I don’t think I have ever not been a nurse, but this role is something very special with different pressures and challenges, for example, how do you manage to answer all those emails!?  

Making a personal connection with patients again feels right and I look forward to the next chapter of my nursing career. As student nurses, you may be worried about the career choices you make now and where you want to work when you qualify. My advice is to relax and go where feels right, your career will change throughout your life and I feel very strongly that our profession is transforming itself in an environment that is challenging in many ways but still centred in the core principles of compassion in practice and genuinely caring about people.


Susan Greenwood is modern matron and dementia lead at Newquay Community Hospital, Cornwall


Find out more about becoming a Care Maker on NHS Employers’ website

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