A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CARE HOME NURSE
Working as a Staffnurse for a care home is both demanding and rewarding. Like any other workplace in healthcare it involves long working hours, good clinical knowledge, skills and good interpersonal skills. However the big difference between the care home and the hospital is making sure nursing care is delivered in a manner that still maintains a homely environment for the residents. In essence our clients are actually residents and not patients.
Work starts at 7 am each morning with handover from the night staff which usually takes about 15 minutes unless otherwise if it was a particularly an eventful night. Once this is done I usually have a look at the staff daily allocation to see if there’ll be enough Carers on the floor and try and arrange cover working along with the Senior HCA. Most times we are well staffed and at times we can manage to get someone to come in from home if need be. I then proceed to start the morning medication round and by now I have established a routine. I prefer to start with taking down overnight PEG feeds and giving insulin injections so I can get the Fasting Blood Sugar readings before breakfast. The morning medication round is usually the longest, lasting about 2 to 3 hours. All the while carers are helping residents to get up, get washed and ready for the day. Each resident has their own routine, this will be well documented in their care plans and staff will usually be aware. Breakfast is served and some will be assisted with feeding. Most times all residents will have had a wash and breakfast by 10:30 am. At this point I like to just do a walk around my floor to make sure its safe before I head out for a mid-morning break. As soon as I get back on the floor I look through the diary and attend to pending items. Usually one might have to follow up on residents’medications, arranging for appointments and other referrals. This can be incredibly time consuming, with long calls and sometimes back and forth discussions. I also like to squeeze in any laboratory specimen collections around this time so they can be sent out on time.
By midday things would have calmed down and it’s time to get residents ready for lunch then begin the lunch time medication round, which usually lasts about half an hour. Allowing me sometimes to help out with meals and feeding. Meal times are quite important in care homes, also its a great way to get to know residents and establish their eating patterns first hand. Afterwards I head out for lunch break. The afternoon is usually a time for engaging activities which are facilitated by an Activities Coordinator. Late afternoon, I will change dressings, update care plans, input nurses’ notes and attend to any other active initiatives.
Throughout each day I will attend to different matters as they arise, issues such as meetings with relatives, attending to residents’ or their families’ complaints, attending to accidents and incidents(e.g falls). I could be tending to a resident who is end of life and ensuring their comfort or verifying an expected death, the list is endless. At times emergency paramedics or out of hours GP have to be called in and this can easily throw me off my routine. The ability to multi task and remain calm under pressure is important. Even though a care home nurse usually manages residents with stable disease conditions, this can change at anytime so a keen eye is necessary in being able to note significant changes especially in residents whom may not be able to communicate their symptoms verbally. Evening time is yet another busy time in a care home setting. Residents will now be served supper, after which showers and full baths are sometimes given. I proceed with the evening medication round, which is usually about an hour and a half long. And by now the day shift is almost over.
As soon as I finish the medication round I then catch a short break and update the diary for the following day. Work of a nurse is truly never done. At times a resident may ask you to sit and converse with them. Other times you are faced with having to support a co-worker who’s having a rough day or has to leave work early, other times you maybe that co-worker that needs support. The best thing though is the lovely familial atmosphere one forges with the residents and the staff overtime. Finally it is end of shift and I handover to night staff, all the while thanking the carers as they clock out and go home.
About the author
Tshepang Eva Komanyana is a Registered Adult Nurse who relocated from Botswana to the UK and is based in the East Midlands. Currently employed in a Nursing Home.
She also has an Instagram blog (@thatimmigrantnurse) where she shares her journey and transition into UK nursing.