Saying Thank You on International Nurses' day

May is the time of year where our nurses and midwives are each given a ‘Day’, where the wider community can celebrate and say thank you for your service and commitment. As part of this we want to share the experiences of some of the nurses and midwives we have worked with, such as Emily Pimm, Deputy Care Home Manager at the St Monica Trust’s John Wills House care home in Bristol. Emily has been in a management role for over 10 years, and is currently undertaking a Florence Nightingale Foundation scholarship programme. In this blog, Emily explains why she went into nursing and the impact of her experience with FNF.

“When I was 17, my dad had cancer and throughout his treatment I would be hounding the nurses, asking them lots of questions. I wanted to understand more, and seeing the amazing treatment that my dad had, I was really keen to start nursing as my career.

After working in several different areas of nursing care, I developed great job satisfaction working in care of the older person, with a particular passion for care of people living with dementia – and from here my passion for social care grew. I think there can be a bit of a stigma towards social care nursing, around the level of challenge and experience nurses can have, but working in this sector requires you to be a very skilled, patient, and autonomous practitioner. You can’t ring an emergency bell for a doctor to come running, you have to be able to use your own judgment and expertise to make each call. You can make social care what you want it to be and what you want it to be for the people who live there. It doesn’t have to be mundane situations. It can be a really challenging environment if you get it right. It can be such a happy and fulfilling career.

“Every day is different in our care home. We’ve had a John Wills House Flower Show for the Chelsea Flower Show. On our regular minibus trips, some residents went to the garden centre to buy their flowers and competed against each other in the Garden Show! They were planting and taking care of their seeds and flowers so that they could take ownership in their garden and grow fresh produce. It’s essential to be able to offer opportunities for residents to contribute to their own home and feel valued. We’ve got Sherry and Stretch, Socials, Cinema Club, Craft sessions with a Potter’s wheel, we’ve got people coming in to do a variety of shows, we’ve got music and quizzes, it’s a very lively place to live and work! People living in a care home should not be isolated. They want to be part of a community and valued. They should be able to go out and buy fish for their fish tank and buy flowers for their garden, because it’s something you and I would do. It’s their home so they should be able to do it. 

“That’s very much our philosophy. I’ve got a very inspirational manager, Wendy, who has a very similar passion to me. She encourages us to listen: what is it that the residents want? We should not be thinking about what we want. The residents hold meetings and tell us what they want to do. Having an empowering role can be very rewarding, I believe it is a lovely working environment for nurses.

“I applied for the 18-month Scholarship programme because I felt it would give me a really good opportunity to develop my leadership and presenting skills as well as support me in evidencing the points I want to make as part of my Quality Improvement Project – and how I can use that information to make a difference. I want decision makers to consider the impact of decisions around restrictions such as closing a nursing home (during Covid), and what that means for the people living in the home.As part of the Scholarship, I have participated in several life-changing leadership programmes. I have felt more courage in my convictions as a result. I mean courage in the sense that I feel my values, and the way I come across as a leader and a strategic thinker, have been positively affirmed, and that I am moving in the right direction. I have learned it is important to stay true to who I am, and how I can empower those around me.

“As my leadership journey continues, I am taking with me the skills and insights I have developed so far. One of the ways I have been able to do this is applying for a programme supported by the Florence Nightingale Foundation to become a Chair of newly formed Social Care Nurse Advisory Council linked to each of the 42 ICB’s in England. This programme has enabled me to build my personal resilience and to develop ways to communicate in an impactful way. This FNF programme works closely with Deborah Sturdy CBE (Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care) and continues to offer me chances to build relationships with our local ICB, to help identify gaps around the support that is offered to Social Care Nurses locally and nationally, and input into plans to build career development opportunities. The role continues to develop and the hope is that we will be able to have more influence around funding decisions within health and social care. I feel I can now find ways to channel my passion for being a voice for people who use the services within social care in a more effective and focused way.”

As a charity, we rely on supporters and donations. This May we have launched a ‘Say thank-you’ fundraising campaign to help us in our work. The campaign will help us in our year-round work supporting nurses and midwives like Emily, to improve care and save lives.

Click here to say ‘thank-you’ and donate.