Queen’s House (Kelso)
I have been at Queen’s House in Kelso in the Scottish Borders for around three years and was appointed Chief Executive in April this year (2019). Queen’s House (Kelso) Ltd. is a registered charity and over the last two years we have grown to now have three homes and around 125 staff. We have one care home called Queen’s House with 32 residents, built in 2002. A care home aimed at supporting people living with dementia was opened in December 2018 called Murray House, with 18 rooms. We have another nine-room care home for people with physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities. We also have a resource centre, Place & Space where people living with dementia in the community can come together.
I have always wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a child. I don’t know where the determination came from, but I never faltered from it – all through school, I was focused on fulfilling that dream. When I first qualified, I worked in acute surgical and medicine, and I went to Jersey in the Channels Islands for five years. When I came back to the mainland, I started working in a care home and really enjoyed it – it was a lot of responsibility, I had to make my own decisions, it was a much more homely atmosphere and lovely environment to work in. From that post, I went to be a care home manager in a residential care home and that was my first experience of managing a team of nurses and staff. I held various other posts before I was lucky enough to get my current job. I love where I am now – I am where I am meant to be.
Nobody wants to leave their house, but if we have our home life disrupted and we move somewhere then I would want them to come here and feel like this is just as good. We know that we can never replace somebody’s home but we would want them to enjoy the time they have with us in a way that provides a quality of life. For me, it is important to promote individual choice – to help each person to make their own decisions, no matter how little that decision is. It’s about making a difference to the person’s day and being very real and authentic, not everyone is going to be happy all the time but we just keep trying and it’s about not giving up on somebody. My aim is that people experience life in a care home positively, that they have a voice and they are able to be autonomous as much as they can be. By doing this and listening hard to what people prefer, I hope we are able to achieve wellbeing. When people feel listened to, they know we are doing the things they want rather than what we think they want. For me, the impact is all about every person being happy as much as they can be and being supported in a way they want to be cared for.
A real skill is being able to see something from where the other person is coming from – a resident, a family member or staff in the care home. Why are they feeling the way they feel? In my role I am using all the skills of nursing. Every time I go into a room I’m using my assessment skills, understanding the social and psychological needs as well as the physical. It’s also about drawing on all the different skills as a leader, as a manager. Making sure I have the right people at the right time, making sure I am a good trainer that I am developing my staff and promoting positivity. I have the budget responsibility as well – but balancing all that it is about ensuring the people who live here come first. I am a nurse first and foremost but also the manager and director of the service. I bring a wide skillset to ensuring that Queen’s House provides a truly homely setting for people to live well and is the best it can possibly be.