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How is it that when I left school, all I ever wanted to be was an architect and I ended up nursing?

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I feel incredibly proud to be a mental health nurse and one of the very many hardworking and committed nurses caring for vulnerable people in the world today.

However, when I left school, I had plans to become an architect or interior designer. These plans became somewhat derailed when I moved to London and found myself working temporarily for an exclusive department store. The work was great fun and I had a very good social life, so an intended short stay led to ten years working in retail management! However, during this time I found myself thinking increasingly about a more rewarding career and this is when I decided that nursing was for me.

I have been very fortunate in having had a very varied and interesting nursing career. My absolute passion is working with older people and I have a great deal of experience working with people living with dementia. This is surprising because when as a care assistant I was asked, nearly 25 years ago, if I would work a bank shift in a day hospital for older people I explained that I only worked with people aged between 18 and 65. However, the voice at the end of the phone begged me and said that she was absolutely desperate for staff.  I ended up working at that hospital for two and a half years, because I loved it so much!

My first job post-qualifying was working as a community psychiatric nurse. I then started to manage day services for older people for a large mental health trust, where I was responsible for four day hospitals and six specialist day centres supporting older people. After seven happy years, I started working for Brendoncare Woodhayes in Exeter, initially as a nurse supervisor, before being appointed deputy manager. In September 2015 I took over as home manager. It has been a very interesting journey to have undertaken all three roles within the same home, both challenging and exceptionally rewarding.

The challenges that old age presents are immense and are mainly associated with loss. This may be loss of health, independence, mobility or a loss of a husband or a wife, so a deep empathy and understanding for the person going through these life-changing processes is essential. As home manager, I enjoy leading a team of dedicated nurses and carers helping people at this difficult time. I feel I have the best of both worlds – working as a nurse gives me great satisfaction and being able to deliver truly person-centred care within a nursing home setting is the icing on the cake.

Click here to read more from some of our amazing team of nurses, all with different experiences but all championing this very great profession.