In order to mark Care Home Week, we hear from Queen’s Nurse Kate McConville on her commitment to care home nursing.
Kate is the Peripetetic Clinical Service Manager in Glasgow for Advinia Healthcare and takes a very hands-on approach. “I spend a lot of time watching how care is delivered and listening to how it is received,” she says. “It has to be the very best it can be, and I take a lot of pride in that.”
She is the only nurse working in the care home sector to have gained the title of Queen’s Nurse in Scotland last year. She intends using the title to encourage more people to consider aged care as a career choice. “For many, working in A&E seems to be more exciting,” she laughs.
“But in care homes you get the opportunity to take a holistic approach when caring for people and deal with a range of different clinical needs. You also need to take a person-centred approach, and see the benefits this has on the person’s wellbeing and quality of life. It’s very rewarding.”
While she was doing her nursing degree at Glasgow Caledonian University, Kate worked as a care assistant in a care home. She tried hospitals for a couple of years before following her heart and joining Bupa* as a Staff Nurse in 2010. She was soon promoted to unit manager, and then to a new role as peripatetic clinical service manager.
The units for which Kate has responsibility provide care for older people over the aged of 65. They provide palliative care and end-of-life care when needed, and the nurses liaise closely with NHS community nursing teams and local hospices to meet residents’ health needs.
Based in Barrhead, Kate travels the country visiting homes. She oversees all the local clinical managers, undertaking the induction and training of new team members. She’s responsible for keeping abreast of relevant Government policy, and ensuring implementation of gold-standard care, she also works with staff to identify where improvements can be made. “It helps that I have done the job they are doing,” she says. “I’m not afraid to put an apron and a pair of gloves on, and I can cover a shift if I need to.”
Kate visits care homes to talk to the chef about ideas for transforming residents’ mealtime experiences. “Food is about so much more than just nutrition, we want to make meal-times an enjoyable and pleasant experience for our residents, she says.
Around 80% of the 68 residents are living with dementia, others are frail elderly, and many need assistance to eat. “If mealtimes are noisy and chaotic, residents eat less, their anxiety levels can rise and it isn’t a pleasant experience for the residents or the staff” says Kate. “Here, if it takes all day, it takes all day. There should never be a hurry when it comes to enjoying your food.”
Thanks to QNIS, Kate’s new approach to change management will be to empower the staff in local care homes to identify how to improve their own meal times for the benefit of the residents. “Our model has to be adaptable to meet the needs of our residents and the individual care homes.”
For Kate, the experience of being a Queen’s Nurse has brought both professional and personal development. “It has given me greater resilience, and permission to be bolder,” she says. “I am also being encouraged to see myself as more of an enabler than a fixer. I have to say, I’m still working on that.”
*At the time of writing, Bupa Care Services had agreed to sell some of its care homes to two providers, HC-One and Advinia but were still operating as Bupa.