How did you arrive in your current post?
I started my career in Bo’ness Community Hospital. It was a great place for a newly qualified nurse as you have time to learn and grow. I then moved to liaison psychiatry at Forth Valley Royal Hospital which was an amazing role. We covered the whole hospital and I was able to build many good working relationships. I had never wanted to be a Senior Charge Nurse (all that paper work!) as I really liked working with patients and their families. However, times change and one of the things I noticed through my liaison psychiatry role and getting to know staff was they were now asking if they could talk to me about personal issues when I went to review a patient. This ranged from looking for advice about family members to wanting to discuss stress and anxiety that they might be experiencing at work and how best to resolve it. When the Senior Charge Nurse job came up at Falkirk Community Hospital I saw it as an opportunity to bring all my skills together. I could help staff due to my experience and love for education and I could create a truly integrated ward with both RGN and RMN nurses. The aim is to become a nationally recognised exemplar ward in cognitive rehabilitation.
Tell us a little about a typical day?
No day is the same which I love. Yes, I have to answer a lot of phone calls and do paper work but I still make sure that I spend time getting to know my patients and I make a point of trying to have at least one conversation a day with a family member.
What sort of challenges have you set yourself?
My main challenge is that the unit will be recognised as an exemplar ward in cognitive rehabiliation. On the way to achieve this there are many small goals. We are working well as a team and everyone in the unit is also wanting to achieve my goals so that is a big help. You could maybe help me write the journal article that we aim to get published showing our good work.
What importance do you place on motivating staff?
It has to be top. If my staff are motivated then everything else just clicks into place. I have spent a lot of time trying to build the trust of the staff and getting to know them. They are often “pulled into the office” but they now know that it is so we can have discussions about the Unit and that I appreciate all their opinions. This is a team effort and as a team we are growing from strength to strength. People want to come to work and be involved in the good practice as when they hear the positive praise they know it was due to them.
How do you spend your days off?
Normally with a book in my hand. I can get lost for the day if I have a book and it won’t be the first or the last time that my family have come in from work to find me in the exact position they left me. It’s a good job I don’t cook the dinners!
Best book you have ever read and why?
Oh that has got to be Touched By An Angel by Tony Mowbray. It’s a book about a football player and how he met his wife who then got cancer and sadly died. I got the book as a teenager (it was all I asked for Christmas that year) and I loved it. I laughed out loud as well as cried real tears. My mum even got it signed and up in the corner he had written LYB, for Love You Bernadette. I am more into fiction with my favourite authors being Elizabeth Hunter, Sierra Dean and Patricia Brigg. They are all good writers so easy to read and I can finish a book normally in a day or two.
It was once pointed out to me by a patient that I had a double chin. I explained to the patient that it was not a double chin but was muscle loss. I used to play the cornet and once I stopped the muscle became weak and now sags. Needless to say when I retold the story to my colleagues they fell about laughing, and said that me playing the cornet at school did not count for my weak muscled chin in my 40s. However even Google cannot disprove my theory so I am sticking to it.
What might people not know about you?
I am pretty much an open book.
Are you a home bird or (Covid apart) a traveller?
A bit of both. I love to travel and often have several trips a year away with friends for different things. I have even been to New Orleans for a Pink concert (or that was my excuse) but if I have my book I am just as happy to shut the door, cuddle in and read.
Three wishes – what would they be?
End poverty, better health for everyone and end war/fighting. I am a happy enough person that I wouldn’t need any wishes for me.
Smile (it makes people wonder what you’re up to) but the team motto is One Team, as we are all part of one big happy family.