- 04 May 2020
- 6 min read
A week in the life of a Deputy Ward Manager
Mental Health Nurse, Chloe, leads us through a typical week in her job as Deputy Ward Manager, detailing the challenges she faces and how she overcomes them.
Topics covered in this article
I feel the need to preface this by saying that, as with most roles in healthcare, you can never predict what any given day or week is going to look like.
But I thought I would share with you what a typical week looks like, as before I became a band 6 I didn’t really understand what the difference between my role as a Staff Nurse and role as a Deputy Ward Manager would be.
A go-between for management and junior staff
I see the role of a Senior Nurse/Deputy Ward Manager as a kind of go-between for the management and junior staff.
You are involved in more management decisions and meetings, but still know what it is like to be on the ‘shop floor,’ which in my opinion is a great position to be in.
Sometimes staff will be frustrated by management decisions; I see it as my role to listen and valid people’s frustrations, but also help them to understand why something is being done that way or why a decision has been made.
Decisions I find frustrate people most are the ones that are made in order to save money.
I can completely understand why staff feel this way, but when you’ve got more of a ‘management’ head on, you need to think about the wider service.
Still a nurse first and foremost
When you are a band 6, people will generally come to you for advice in either a formal or informal way.
I see it as my responsibility to act as a role model, both in how I handle challenging situations but also in how I deal with patients and staff on a daily basis.
It’s important to remember that when you’re a Deputy Ward Manager, you are still a nurse on the ward first and foremost.
You might occasionally get some supernumery ‘management’ time to get on top of the extra tasks given to you as a band 6, but ultimately, you need to find time to do this around the activities on the ward.
Typical tasks of a Deputy Ward Manager
Here is just an example of some of the tasks I get up to in any given week:
Rotas, rotas and more rotas.
One of my biggest misconceptions before getting my band 6 was that you just do the rotas once and then aside from the odd small change to account for sickness or a change in observations, you just leave them be.
Oh how wrong I was!
I barely go a few hours without checking Health Roster, constantly checking to make sure that unfilled shifts have been picked up, juggling skill mix and on occasion the gender mix of staff, for the entire site not just my ward.
There are so many elements that go into creating and maintaining rotas that they’re never really ‘done'.
As a band 5 nurse your responsibility for dealing with incidents ends at completing a DATIX report, but as a 6 you need to take it to that next step.
Depending on the seriousness of the incident reported, this can involve looking at the factors that led to the incident, raising any issues with staff involved, consider any training/supervision needs that arise as a result and potentially conducting three day reviews.
Audits are another part of the band 6 role that I don’t think anyone would say are their favourite, but you cannot underestimate their importance.
Audits are going to vary depending on your work place, but they can be around cleanliness, policy compliance, care plans, hand hygiene, training and more.
The purpose of an audit is to highlight areas that your area is doing well in, and pick up on areas that are being missed.
This allows you to praise staff for what is being done well and think about how you can improve areas that are not up to standard.
Acting on behalf of your ward manager in their absence.
This can take place in many different forms, it might be just liaising with your operational manager to ensure they are aware of ongoing issues whilst your manager is away, you might be expected to attend management meetings on their behalf and deal with any complaints that come in whilst they’re away.
Good communication with both your ward manager and the management above them is key in this.
Supervising junior staff, particularly around more challenging issues such as sickness and performance management.
Personally I was supervising support workers as a band 5, but it was I was only expected to complete the ‘easier’ supervisions at that level.
But since stepping up to a band 6 I’ve had to have a lot more challenging conversations with staff, whilst it isn’t a part of the job anyone likes, it is crucial to ensuring all performance of individual staff and teams as a whole.
There is definitely a lot more to being a Deputy Ward Manager than I could sum up in this reasonably short blog post, but hopefully this has given you a rough idea of the increased responsibility when you transition from a band 5 to a 6.
I’ve been a Deputy Ward Manager for a little over 3 months now, it has certainly been a challenging time but I’ve also loved the experience.
I’m looking forward to growing and developing more in my career as a nurse.