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  • 18 May 2010
  • 2 min read

Shirley Bird - explains the role of an experienced care home nurse manager

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Shirley is a highly experienced care and residential manager with over 30 years nursing experience of learning disabilities and work as a qualified RNLD. We find out what she thinks about her job.

How long have you been nursing and what first attracted you to the job?

I’ve been working in nursing since 1979, before that I did 5 years voluntary care work in the local learning disability hospital. I’ve always felt a “calling” to the job.

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Do you miss a more hands-on element to your job now that you’re managing?

Yes, and I always’ try to get as much hands on as possible. In fact, I have worked as a home carer in my spare time in a care assistant role.

Why did you retrain to gain your RNLD qualification?

I wanted to get retrained as a registered learning disabilities nurse simply due to a lack of career opportunities for ENs and to also update my skills and self-development.

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Has the role of a nurse in care homes changed much during your career?

Yes, it has. There is not much in the way of clinical requirements in learning disabilities and residential homes now because the local community nurses tend to do it.

What changes do you foresee in care home jobs in the UK?

In two words, more legislation.

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How important is it to keep on learning and taking courses as a nurse?

Very important. Changing legislations and practices mean there is always something new to learn and one should not get complacent.

A nursing course doesn’t necessarily mean you have learnt new skills, but have been informed how to do things. You have to keep up the knowledge and may need regular practice in between to help you remember.

Before you became a qualified nurse you worked as a nursing assistant. What are the advantages in working in healthcare before you take a nursing qualification?

You get to experience what it is like working in that healthcare environment. Also you are around people who can share their nursing or healthcare knowledge and experiences so you have an idea of what to expect.

Another thing, which I think is important, is that you have worked in a position, which gives you insight into the junior staff’s environment.

What do you like about working in healthcare? And would you recommend it?

I enjoy working with people, helping them to develop, making their lives more comfortable and secure. Yes I would recommend it.

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About the author

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.


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