What’s it really like to work in a care home versus a hospital?
Care homes all over the UK are struggling to attract nurses with some paying exorbitant agency fees to plug the gap. The level of pay and misconceptions about nursing in care homes are seen as largely to blame for nurses opting to work for the NHS instead of the care sector.
A report by the Teaching Care Home pilot found working in a care home is often seen as a “last resort” with negative views of care home nursing held by universities and other bodies seen as a barrier to attracting new nurses to the sector.
As a leading recruiter for the care profession, we believe it’s important for both candidates and care organisations to hear directly from the staff who work in these positions to find out what’s really like day-to-day.
Morag MacDonald currently works as a staff nurse at a Baycroft Care Home. She admits that prior to working in a care home she had a negative perception of care home nurses, but would now like to see more nurses being open minded and considering a career in the care sector. Here’s what she she has to say about working as a nurse in a care home setting.
“I wrongly thought that many care home nurses wanted an ‘easy life’ and often thought to myself they would not handle a shift on a busy ward. That was too judgemental.”
“I have also had people say to me that you become ‘de-skilled’. That depends on what kind of nurse you are.”
She admits that “if you need the adrenaline of working in A&E, then perhaps care homes aren’t for you. But if you want to experience the pleasure of your resident’s smile when they see you coming onto your shift, then please consider a career in a care home!”
For her, the benefits of working in a care home are the “chance to make a difference on a day to day basis with residents and spend more quality time with them”. She also likes the “autonomy the position of a staff nurse gives me. I can make decisions and see them through and I love to encourage the care staff to be really involved in all aspects of life at our home”.
“I enjoy getting to know the residents and their families and it feels like I have an extended family. I have a great affinity with the elderly and believe that we can all learn something from the older generation simply by listening and giving our time to them.”
She admits there are challenges to working in a care home, saying: “There are always challenges, as is in life. Staffing levels are notoriously low in many care homes and this obviously impacts on the residents lives and of the nurses and carers”.
However this is not the case at Baycroft as she adds: “We are very fortunate at Baycroft to have excellent staffing levels and this makes our jobs so much more rewarding knowing that we can spend quality time caring for our residents.”
In terms of pay and benefits, her job as a care home nurse “is much more than I earned with the NHS and there are opportunities for promotion to positions such as unit manager”.
She adds: “We have amazing chefs at Baycroft and they make sure all the staff have fab food, so much better than the soggy sandwiches I used to have!”
Her enthusiasm for the job is palpable and she says the best thing about Mondays is “seeing all the ‘family’ who are my bosses, my co-workers and of course the residents.
“I never dread Mondays like in some jobs because nursing is ultimately a seven days a week job. If anything when I have had a few days off, I can’t wait to get back to catch up with everyone.”
Article reproduced with kind permission from Baycroft.
If you’re looking to develop you career within the nursing sector, or if you’re an employer who would benefit from sourcing top quality talent within your care environment, get in touch today.