Social Care CLE Guide

Rowena Bolton

Home Manager, Cheadle Manor Care Home in Stockport

Rowena qualified in 1995 as one of the first Project 2000 diploma nurses and then worked for the NHS before moving into care homes in 2007.  She has worked in a clinical lead role since 2017. Her background and passions are within stroke care, end of life care and looking after people living with dementia.

Although passionate about the role of social care and the dedicated professionals that work within it now, Rowena remembers her own preconceptions and opinions prior to her shift from student nurse then working in the NHS to when she commenced work in a care home.

MYTH “Nurses working in care homes aren’t good enough to work in the NHS.”

How wrong was I! Nurses working in care homes/nursing homes work within a different culture than those working within a ward. They deal with people all the time that have a range of very complex clinical needs. They make clinical judgements that would normally be made by junior doctors on wards to ensure residents receive the best care available. This can often mean avoiding hospitalisation which can be very traumatic or working within a multi-disciplinary team to ensure a smooth hospital discharge back to their home.

MYTH “Nurses in care homes are cutting back and preparing for early retirement.”

If the job role is too demanding, then take a rest from the NHS and wind down?  Again, this is a myth as many of my colleagues and peers are young, energetic career professionals that recognise the career development opportunities that social care setting may offer. I personally developed from nurse to manager and am by no means planning to take it easy and to sit and wait for retirement.

MYTH “Student nurses draw the short straw if they must do a placement in a social care setting.”

An active part of my role is that of supporting learners to undertake learning opportunities within Cheadle Manor.  We have had some fantastic feedback over the years from 2nd and 3rd year learners and it has really opened their eyes as to the real plethora of opportunities to grow, develop and gain competencies.  However, as I shared my own initial views above the myths surrounding the value and worth of social care as a clinical learning environment still prevail and much more needs to be done to dispel the myths and celebrate successes in this area.

MYTH “Nurses working in social care become deskilled.”

Quite the opposite!  The sheer diversity of individuals with a mix of chronic or specialist conditions living in residential care offers students and professionals the opportunity to become multi-skilled and expert within a range of diverse areas.  They get the experience of working within multi-professional teams and build real relationships with people that they care for and their families often up until end of life.

Final words

The relationship between the NHS and social care needs to be better understood if we are to be working towards a truly integrated and innovative offer.  A greater understanding of social care settings and services means greater respect, cooperation, and collaboration.  The end user be it a patient or resident will benefit in terms of person-centred care and support and quality of life.  Working closely with educators we need to ensure that the real benefits of learner placements within social care are accurately understood, widely celebrated, and become commonplace.  There should be a requirement to experience a wide variety of settings that come together to make the systems work.