• 19 March 2020
  • 8 min read

How I became a care home nurse and why I changed career path

  • Ruth Keating
    Nursing home nurse RGN
  • 0
  • 1029
"We have some of the best conversations. I get regular hugs and teasing from some of the residents. Many a brew has been made for those late night/early morning travellers who are a bit confused"

Ruth has had a long career as an RGN nurse. A few years ago she decided to change direction and work in a nursing home. This article looks at her story, and the detail of her daily role.

Topics covered in this

About me

RGN nursing home interview tips

The differences between NHS and Private nursing

What’s the typical night shift routine for a care home nurse?

Why did I decide to work in a nursing home as a nurse?

What do I love about my job as a nursing home nurse?

What do I plan to do in the future?

About me

My current role is is as an RGN in a Nursing & Care Home.

I work two twelve hour shifts a week, sometimes more.

I get paid £16 per hour.

I trained to be an Enrolled Nurse aged 18 in a School of Nursing and ‘lived in’. This was back in 1982.

I eventually decided to convert to an RGN circa 1996 because my qualification was becoming obsolete.

Since training as a nurse I have held a myriad of roles, married twice, had two children, various pets, moved home 7 times (never again, either that and the kids can move me or it’s in a box) and now live in a quirky 136 year old house, I love it and where we moved to.

The ideal skills for my job role is experience because you are the only nurse on shift.

RGN nursing home interview tips

Be yourself, research the role, apply it to your experience (it’s all valid).

If you don’t have experience, say so but back it up with that you’re willing to learn and expand your knowledge and skill set.

The differences between NHS and Private nursing

Using my own care home work place as the contrast…

NHS

• good pension

• sick pay incremental wage increases (unless you’re at the top of your band like I was) huge organisation

• too many managers all wanting their latest scheme to be implemented for their next job application

• paid to attend courses

PRIVATE

• work scheme pension (not as good as NHS)

• no sick pay

• no continual layers of management and constant changes in policy and procedure every time there’s a new manager

• no payment for attending courses access to Telemed system which is manned by qualified nurses for a second opinion if needed

• both Home Manager and Deputy Manager accessible 24/7

Everything else like frequent training/courses and support with revalidation is the same.

What’s the typical night shift routine for a care home nurse?

Start - 20:00pm

• Report from day staff

• Medicine round for 40 people

• Set tables, clean chairs, tables, vacuum lounges (there are 3), help with laundry Complete nursing paperwork, audits, checks on equipment

• Answer buzzers whilst carers are on the first round

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0.00am

• rest until…

• answering continual buzzers throughout the night, I take my turn answering them as there are 3 of us, 1 nurse and 2 carers

• Back to laundry, help out as items are needed for the next round

2.00am

• Breathing check, combine it with a round, job done

3.00am

• Round finished

3:30am

• Staggered break times as it’s an hour each

4:30am

• Buzzers, buzzers buzzers

6:00am

• Feeding residents

• Medicine round

• Paperwork

8:00AM

• Hand over to day shift

• HOME!

Of course this is all dependent on no incidents, accidents or poorly people!

Why did I decide to work in a nursing home as a nurse?

After moving house I left my job as a Senior Endoscopy Nurse of 16 years.

It had run its course, new house, new place, fresh start elsewhere.

However back to reality, I had to work so I banked at the local general hospitals as an Endoscopy Nurse for approximately 6 months when I applied for a job at a private hospital (any nursing role other than Endoscopy).

However I was offered the role of Endoscopy Manager (NOT what I wanted but I did give it a go).

I decided it wasn’t what I was looking for or what I wanted to do any more, should have gone with the gut instinct there.

The search for a new job was on! I tarted my CV up and started applying, little realising everyone could see my application and pick it up, I was soon inundated.

Then I found Matt.

He was supportive and encouraging and found me the perfect job, just around the corner, decent pay, good CQC rated care home so off I went for the interview he had arranged.

Matt kept tabs on me throughout the whole process making sure that it was what I wanted.

To be fair I was worried as it was for nights!

We talked it through and we decided I’d go for the interview and see what I thought and if I really didn’t want it Matt would find me something more suitable as I had originally asked for days.

Met the owner and the Deputy Manager, instantly liked both, liked the feel of the home, had a really informal interview (which was great because some interviews simply insult your intelligence and obvious experience and they’re just going through the motions), they asked me to come back in and meet the Manager the following week.

I did that, hit it off with her straight away (she’s brilliant) and the rest as they say is history…

What do I love about my job as a nursing home nurse?

For starters my Manager is fab.

So supportive, funny, kind yet straight forward and says it as it is!

We have some of the best conversations.

As the only nurse on the shift the ultimate decision making is mine however empowerment is key (experience has taught me this) include people in any decisions it aids cohesiveness and co-operation and trust me the shift will go much smoother without ill-feeling.

My Manager/Deputy Manager are accessible 24/7 (would you believe).

Any requests are dealt with promptly whether that’s for holidays, days/nights off or courses.

And most of all… The Residents.

We have to remember that we are guests in their home.

Be polite, kind and caring, knock on the door before going in, ask permission to check their bodies, provide individual care and be mindful of the fact they wouldn’t be there if they could look after themselves whilst promoting independence.

I love it when they say they’ve missed me or say they wish I could work 7 nights a week!

I get regular hugs and teasing (and that’s just the staff…) and from some of the residents.

Late night chats because they can’t sleep or they’re worried or had a bad dream.

Many a brew has been made for those late night/early morning travellers who are a bit confused.

All in all it’ll do me.

What do I plan to do in the future?

Not thinking too much about that as everything is convenient at the moment, anything else would require travel.

I’ll admit sometimes I don’t feel as though I’m being mentally stimulated / challenged enough but I guess that’s because of my previous roles.

I’ve been in my current role for just under a year so it’s early days yet.

The toughest bit was getting to know all of the residents because they look so different without teeth and glasses never mind not wearing their hearing aids!

So we’ll just see, for now.

About the author

  • Ruth Keating
    Nursing home nurse RGN

I've been working as a nurse for 23 years, having enrolled as nurse in training in 1982. I've worked as a Senior Endoscopy Nurse before switching my career to work in care homes as a qualified RGN. I now work night shift and love what I do.

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  • Ruth Keating
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About the author

  • Ruth Keating
    Nursing home nurse RGN

I've been working as a nurse for 23 years, having enrolled as nurse in training in 1982. I've worked as a Senior Endoscopy Nurse before switching my career to work in care homes as a qualified RGN. I now work night shift and love what I do.

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