After feeling let down by the lack of action offered by the care maker scheme, student nurse Anna offers some crustructive criticism on turning words into action
As a second year mental health student nurse, I am determined to make changes to improve both patients’ and nurses’ experience of the NHS.
To be fair, for the first to occur the second must be in place.
No one is happy all of the time, that would be a ridiculous goal, but to be unhappy all of the time is not acceptable. It can negatively impact on a nurse’s work ethic, their ability to problem solve and work effectively within a team, not to mention the care they deliver. This is not to say that all unhappy nurses deliver unsafe or insufficient care, but it can and does affect their ability to be the best nurse they can be.
“I thought this was the answer to my student nurse prayers”
So as part of my quest to help make the NHS a more positive work enviornment, I joined social media to see what was out there and quickly found out about the “Care Makers”.
The care maker initiative and the 6Cs were, at the time, being hailed as a major change agent for the NHS.
I thought this was the answer to my student nurse prayers; I was going to join a group that would challenge poor practice, promote better standards for nurses and revolutionise the NHS.
Without question I joined, feeling that I had found my transport route to becoming a change maker. I didn’t question whether promoting values in such a way would be effective, or if over-enthusiastic student nurses teaching qualified staff to suck eggs might illicit a negative response. I believed this would be the start of me being able to tackle the real issues that prevented health care professionals from adhering to the values they had signed up to when they became registered nurses.
“At the welcome event we learnt about the 6Cs, but not how to implement them”
The day I found out I was accepted as a care maker (one of around 1,200) I felt proud knowing I had been selected to be part of this amazing initiative.
I eagerly awaited the conference that would provide me with the tools to take on the role effectively. I anticipated being presented with an abundance of ideas that current care makers had developed with the support of the Chief Nursing Officer. I expected to be given answers to ‘What now? What can I do to make a difference to the nurses suffering on the ground? How can I help patients who are missing out on important aspects of their care?’
At the welcome event we learnt about the 6Cs, how they had been promoted and their impact on the patient experience, but not how to implement them.
What I did learn was the vision behind the care makers, which in essence I agree with and the importance of recruiting more care makers, which I had no issue with at this point.
However that is all I can say about what I learnt. Believe me, I paid full attention believing this was my chance to put my values into action with the support of the Chief Nursing Officer!
What I do remember clearly is the self promotion of care makers at the event of who they had met and been photographed with. This held no interest to me as I really don’t care who I meet, I want to make changes. The only reason I would want to meet the people mentioned would be to challenge their policies and lack of support for nurses!
We also learnt about the need to promote positivity. To be honest, that threw me a little as I believe it’s important to challenge ideas, regardless of where they’ve come from. If I don’t understand or agree with what was being said, I should be challenging it. I am happy to be shown that I am wrong and to learn and develop from other peoples’ perspectives, and I also think sharing my own ideas can have a positive impact.
In all honesty, I left the conference more confused than when I started.
“I cannot promote something that does not demonstrate substance”
My questions had not been answered to my satisfaction. All I knew was that my role was to promote, the shame of the matter is that I cannot promote something that does not demonstrate substance and ability to do what is said on the tin.
As a student nurse with a high work load and four children, I have no time for promoting something that is already covered in the nursing curriculum. I began to critically question the validity of the care makers scheme as a productive tool, and whether it could be viewed positively in its current state of development.
Was there something I just wasn’t getting?
Not being one to give up on something I have invested so much hope in I’ve since asked this question at care maker stands and on social media and feel it remains unanswered.
I came to the conclusion that actually I was getting it just fine. I just wasn’t ready to accept that I had signed up to something that is not what I feel it should be - or that so much money had been put into its promotion!
“All I see now is that the role of care makers is to promote the care maker role”
All I see now is that the role of care makers is to promote the care maker role, the 6Cs and recruit other care makers. What I can’t see is how this improves anything for nurses or patients.
I still hope there is more to this initiative than this but I cannot find it.
I am resourceful and if there is a way to get to my goal then I will get there. Sadly I believe that I got on the wrong transport and it took me somewhere I did not want to be.
Some would argue that the care makers scheme has led to a huge increase in knowledge of the 6Cs, which to me seems a little worn as they were already part of a student nurses learning and equally a qualified nurse’s role.
What has been positive is the pledges that student nurses and nurses have made to improve their own care, but I fear this will be challenged somewhat in the current climate. Student nurses are the most enthusiastic people I have met, so when nurses stop caring, what happened to this enthusiasm? It certainly isn’t forgetting what your job is.
You can see my problem - how do I promote a role that has yet to receive a firm job description or measurable outcomes?
“I have lost faith in the initiative, much to my own disappointment”
I have lost faith in the initiative, much to my own disappointment as I still believe in some way that maybe I am just not getting it. Not receiving an answer to my question has left me at a loss.
I also feel the credibility of the initiative has become tainted through the social media hype that seems to surround it. When events become care makers’ events and their promotion seems to surround the care maker family rather than the actual purpose of the event, it all seems very much like a “look at what we are doing” kind of exercise with familiar faces recurring over and over again.
I’ve heard similar views from others that echo my own thoughts that the care maker initiative could be viewed as a media spin, as opposed to a nursing movement. In fairness, if the ultimate aim was to raise awareness of the 6Cs then job done. However I have heard it said by nurse lecturers that if they hear the term “6Cs” one more time at interview they may lose the will (this is paraphrased). People want action to support the words.
“People want action to support the words”
What do I want to happen?
This initiative has now the coverage and, let’s face it, investment to campaign for the important things needed to make the 6Cs happen. I want to see 1,200 care makers come together and petition for our patients who are going to be expelled from our country to one where they will face persecution and/or death for their sexuality.
I want care makers to stand together and actively fight for protected break times for nurses.
I want care makers to fight for backfilling of roles when a nurse is off sick so teams aren’t working beyond capacity.
I want 1,200 care makers to stand together and explicitly say we will support our colleagues to speak out safely, we will care for our colleagues as we do our patients.
I want care makers to mean action as well as promotion.
I believe that the care makers that have been accepted into this role have the capacity and strength to do this. It is clear to see the passion that they hold for patients and nurses alike and I would like to ask them all what do they think we should DO now?
Despite my questions, worries and concerns I still uphold the care maker values, but I have found an alternative route that does not include being labelled as part of the care maker scheme.