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International Nurses Day: Sharing knowledge and experience to improve veterans’ care

Three nurses working for a veterans’ charity have spoken of the passion and excitement they feel for training care staff.

Emma Hall, Tee Penicela and Grace Nabus are Clinical Nurse Educators (CNEs), working in Royal Star & Garter’s three Homes, and are part of a programme aimed at improving the award-winning person-centred care the charity provides.

Speaking ahead of International Nurses Day on Friday 12 May, they told of their passion to improve adult social care through teaching and sharing their knowledge and experience.

Royal Star & Garter is a charity which provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, from Homes in Solihull Surbiton and High Wycombe.

The CNEs, who between them have more than 80 years’ experience in nursing, are helping Royal Star & Garter deliver its new Developing Care Together (DCT) Programme. This will see all Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) and Lead HCAs in the Homes train up to a Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care. They are leading the training, and carrying out the assessments that are required to complete the course.

The CNEs have been recruited as part of Royal Star & Garter’s commitment to improve the exceptional care it already delivers. Both Royal Star & Garter Homes in Solihull and High Wycombe have been rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in their last inspections, while the Surbiton Home was rated Outstanding for care.

The mandatory training sessions are interactive, and taught in classrooms settings and online, with in-role observations making up the majority of the learning. The DCT modules cover 45 units of care, including personal care, meeting nutrition and hydration needs, dementia and end-of-life care.

Grace, who has been a Nurse for 25 years, said: “The aim is to develop all HCAs clinical skills and for them to do their job to the same enhanced standard. The icing on the cake is they will gain a Level 3 Diploma, which is a high qualification.”

Emma, with 27 years’ experience as a Nurse, said: “In the current climate it’s very hard to recruit, but this is a way of upskilling the carers in the Homes. Some had reservations beforehand, but we’re here to reassure and support them. In many ways we’re formalising what they already know – they’re surprised at how much they actually know and their knowledge is really good. I can see their passion. And from the feedback we’ve received, staff are enjoying the training, which is really important. I’m very passionate about care that’s given, and think the only way residents can receive the best care is if we have upskilled and trained staff.

While all three CNEs say the DCT Programme will result in even better care for residents in the three Homes, Tee, a Nurse for 31 years, added: “When people talk about person-centred care, they often focus on residents only and forget to include staff wellbeing. Staff must feel fully valued in order to provide the very best person-centred care. At Royal Star & Garter, staff value is evident, and the Developing Care Together Programme will enhance this. It offers real career progression, and people are being given an opportunity to develop through reflective practice. I remind staff in High Wycombe that their Home is rated Outstanding, and it shows. The staff are amazing, it is a special place.

The CNEs are also thrilled to be imparting the nursing skills and knowledge they have built up over the years. Grace worked in the NHS before joining another military care charity, where she stayed for 15 years. She said: “I started as a Nurse, and then became a Senior Nurse before developing to a Senior Nurse with training responsibilities. I enjoy teaching and I’m passionate about training and I feel fortunate to be able to do it here at Royal Star & Garter.” Tee said: “I’ve worked as a Practice Development Nurse before. I have teaching and assessing qualifications, and I’ve worked in care homes since 2008. I’m passionate about them and anything that can improve the care.

Emma added: “I just want to share my skills and knowledge. I have high standards and I will never accept poor care. We’re all here for the same outcome, and that’s to do the best we can for residents. Royal Star & Garter is outstanding, but there’s always room for improvement.

Anyone interested in working for Royal Star & Garter can go to https://starandgarter.org/work-for-us/ to view latest vacancies.

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