Recognising and valuing the social care nurse
Magda Duzniak is a Clinical Lead Nurse at Pennington Court Care Home (Westward Care). She discusses how rewarding a career in social care nursing is and how she’s embracing opportunities for leading evidence-informed care and supporting staff to value their contribution to quality for the benefit of people living in care homes.
I completed my nursing degree in Poland. When I moved to Leeds (in 2010) I chose to work as a care assistant in a care home for older people while awaiting my professional registration with the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council. I knew this was the care environment that I wanted to specialise in, and I now have over ten years’ experience as a care home nurse. I have been working at Pennington Court since 2014, appointed as a clinical lead nurse in 2018.
Nursing in a care home setting - a person’s home - requires an approach that focuses on supporting the individual to live well and providing care to help manage their condition so that it has minimal impact on their day-to-day life. I focus on the person and not the disease. There’s great satisfaction in promoting quality of life for someone through simple acts, such as ensuring they have an appropriate wheelchair to be able to go out in the garden in the last months (or days) of their life. I work as an independent practitioner, using my knowledge, skills, and competence to meet the long-term care needs of residents. This also involves building relationships with the individual resident and their family and working with care home support staff and the broader health and social care multidisciplinary team.
As a nurse leader I understand the importance of evidence informed care. Westward Care is a partner of NICHE-Leeds (which stands for nurturing innovation in care home excellence in Leeds). I’m a practice-based linking pin in this partnership and, as such, I’m the ‘bridge’ between science and care, helping to develop and deliver research projects and to translate the research into meaningful resources for care. I’m currently undertaking the National Institute for Health and Care Research (Yorkshire and Humber) ‘First steps into research’ programme as I develop in this role. This is benefiting the broader care team as I encourage staff to get involved with research activities, to boost their confidence and morale as they value their contribution to enhancing quality in the care home. I’d like to encourage other care homes to take part in research and be an advocate for the practice-based linking pin role.
There’s a myth that care home nurses can’t get a job elsewhere or they’re near retiring. Let me dispel this myth: I’m proud to choose to be a social care nurse. There are many rewards in this role, and I think it a privilege to be supporting people in their final years of life. I also have ambition. I will always champion social care nursing, encourage the care teams I work with, seek to inspire the next generation of nurses and advocate for research active homes. I work to build the position of the care home nurse as an independent, knowledgeable, skilled, competent, resourceful, and innovative leader in social care.
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