Jane Douglas, is Independent Nurse Advisor for Health & Social Care and a Visiting Lecturer at Queen Margaret University.
I could not believe how lucky I was when I gained a place on the Queen’s Nurse programme in 2018. I am a Social Care Nurse; I have been a Social Care Nurse since 1995 but at that time there was no such identity. In fact, for most of my years as a Social Care Nurse we have been hidden from sight and those Registered Nurses who choose to work in social care are frowned upon with suspicion, perhaps they are not quite good enough to work in the NHS.
While I have always been confident in myself and my abilities, there was always a shadow of doubt in regard to my nursing identity. This doubt came from the influence of others, their questioning of me and why was I working in social care. Further, NHS nursing colleagues never quite understood the value that Registered Nurses bring to Social Care.
When I joined the QN programme, I felt somewhat out of place standing next to my NHS peers and was haunted by the thought ‘did I have a right to be here?’.
As part of the programme, I explored the question ‘How does my narrative of care homes shift the general narrative of care homes? It became clear to me that ‘Shaping the future of care homes by creating beautiful spaces for people to live & work’ was important to me.
I took the learning and development from the QN programme, and I worked hard to develop an organisation that was kind and compassionate through the foundations of person centredness. This new philosophical approach and leadership came from the development of self, my courage and my belief, that I too am equal. The courage and new-found confidence enabled me to make a change and in creating a person-centred organisation that nurtured the staff team and created a culture of kindness, ensured that the care team practiced person centredness to each other and most importantly as a consequence, to the people they cared for, ‘our people’.
Changing the narrative of Social Care Nursing has been possible because of the Queen’s Nurse programme. We need more QNs in Social Care Nursing because they make a difference to residents, staff teams and family members. They are brave, courageous and creative, with the ability to show kindness and compassion through innovative models of nursing.
This culture was embedded throughout, and as a team we worked hard to ensure ‘our people’ received the best care and had the best day.
We achieved Investors in People – silver accreditation and we were Care Home of the Year for Scotland 2019 and 2020. Our nomination in 2020 came from the family members. We increased staff retention, and turnover dropped ensuring a consistent staff team which improved outcomes for people in receipt of care.
Moving roles to become the first Chief Nurse with the Care Inspectorate and then the Transforming Nursing Roles lead with Scottish Care, I further explored how I could ‘change the narrative of Social Care Nursing’.
I have undertaken research and developed a definition of Social Care Nursing from this: ‘The Social Care Nurse focus is to ensure better outcomes for people experiencing care and their relatives, to ensure a quality of life and a quality of death. To support the person to be as well as they can with the understanding that wellness fluctuates daily. This is achieved through a holistic person-centred approach.’ (Douglas, 2022)
The overarching aim:
‘To ensure better outcomes for residents and relatives, to ensure a quality in life and a quality in death. This is achieved through a holistic, person-centred approach.’ (Douglas, 2022)
I have developed a Social Care Nurses Journal and network with Scotland’s first Social Care Nurses conference held in March 2023 opened by Scotland’s CNO.