Sal tells her story about retraining to be a Nurse
At the age of 39 I decided to embark on my nursing degree, this challenged me academically because in my opinion nursing isn't just about the grades you receive but the passion, empathy and compassion that comes from within
Sal Barton, Head of Care Beckside.
As Head of Care at Beckside my day varies significantly and my best-laid plans for the day sometimes shift due to the ever-changing needs of the residents. I am fortunate enough to have a team of nurses who keep the nursing element running beautifully. Beckside has a team of 11 nurses including myself caring for 20 nursing residents, with varying clinical needs. We are all very passionate and specialise in end of life care, I have built up strong professional links with the palliative coordinators at the local NHS Trust and the local hospice. My role includes the completion of all assessments for potential residents into the home, so having a thorough knowledge of the current care needs of my residents is vital.
I consider that every day I make a difference as a nurse, this is either because of the current climate of the COVID virus and the importance of keeping my knowledge up to date to support the staff and the residents to keep them safe and well, but equally ensuring that our end of life residents experience the death they choose and deserve. Without choice, respect and dignity then I consider this a failing in the basic requirements of person-centred care.
After initially wanting to be a policewoman my career choice was initially dictated by my health and social care diploma I completed at the age of 17. After this, I went on to work for a housing association where the current manager saw something special in me and nurtured me into the person I have become. I will always consider that the support I was given at that young age and the time and development I was offered fuelled my passion of care of the elderly, and after 16 years with the same company, I went from relief carer to manager and worked with many different client groups. This allowed me to understand the pressures within the health and social care sector, but also that it was very often the behaviours of the staff team around me that influenced the experience that our residents had.
At the age of 39 I decided to embark on my nursing degree, this challenged me academically because in my opinion nursing isn't just about the grades you receive but the passion, empathy and compassion that comes from within. I had only been qualified 15 months when I took up the post at Beckside and have now been there for 3 years and 5 months. As a student nurse, I was privileged to work alongside Ruth May Chief Nursing Officer for England, and Lynn McIntyre MBE on the NHS Stop the Pressure campaign, for which I was awarded most influential student nurse by BAPEN, something I remain immensely proud of. Through this work, I was introduced to many influential leaders and was fortunate enough to be invited to the Florence Nightingale Gala event at The Park Plaza in London, another very proud moment.
Florence Nightingale was a very influential Nurse who provided opportunities for woman and men to embark on a vocation, not a job, not a career but a journey of self-development. Florence's work was very well documented and celebrated with one of her highest accolades that she was awarded the title of Lady of Grace of the Order of St John, the first woman to receive the order of merit. Florence's work will continue to shape the future of nursing and to celebrate International Nurses Day is my way of marking the respect of an average woman that made sure she made a difference. My advice to anyone going into nursing would be to obtain some valuable life experience within the care sector, take your time before choosing further education but when your heart is filled with fire then follow your dream.