When I found out my first ever placement was going to be in a nursing home I had a mixture of emotions, scared, excited and worried. Within the media, nursing homes have received a huge amount of negative stigma and from my personal discussion with others, do not seem the most appealing places to work amongst the nursing profession.
Before my placement started, I met with a nurse who would be my mentor during my 12 week placement. All of the staff were welcoming on my arrival and the home itself had a high level of cleanliness. This helped to put my mind at ease for my first day of placement. I had channelled my worries into positive thoughts of how I was going to achieve the most out of my first placement as a student nurse.
During my placement, residents welcomed me into their home to help care for them as well as getting to know the residents, their lives and things they enjoyed doing. With the supervision and encouragement from my mentor, other nurses, assistant practitioners and healthcare assistants. The care I provided to patients also enabled me to enhance many skills and knowledge in the administration of medications, wound care, assessments of deteriorating patients e.g. Recognising signs of urine retention and infection and my most memorable is of holding the hand of someone in their last few days.
From this placement, I have learnt the huge autonomy of nurses working in nursing homes. They are required to use their own judgements and skills in many areas of the adult nursing profession. An example of this is assessing a patient’s health and possible deterioration after a patient has had a fall. Using their own judgement nurses would have to assess whether patients require help from other healthcare professionals and if they do how urgent do they require assistance. When in a hospital ward environment, doctors and other health care professionals and services are available to hand, if a patient has a fall.
Some patients in the home had disabilities and mental health needs which also needed to be understood and met. Having seen the empathetic and caring relationships nurses and carers provide in nursing homes has changed my own opinions. I hope this short article gives you an insight into my positive experience of a nursing placement. I was very lucky to have a positive mentor to give me opportunities to experience nursing care in such an environment.
If you have a nursing home placement coming up make the utmost of every opportunity you get and enjoy getting to know the same residents, hearing their life stories. Most importantly, remember that great care and compassion does still exist in nursing homes. Do not let yours or others negative stigmas and preconceptions get in the way of your nursing journey.
Abby Farzaneh, Second Year Adult Nursing Student Bournemouth University (Yeovil Campus)