Meet Catherine, Lead Nurse
Catherine has worked at National Star for 18 years, and originally joined us as a Nurse Practitioner. Day to day she liaises with parents, carers, therapists, colleagues and learners in order to deliver a high standard of holistic and individualised medical care. She works at our college campus in Ullenwood.
What attracted you to National Star?
I first heard about National Star from a friend who worked here as a Facilitator. She was always talking about the exciting work she was doing with young people with disabilities, and I thought it sounded exciting, interesting and varied. I applied for a Nurse Practitioner role in Cheltenham and was successful. Applying to work for National Star has been the best thing I’ve ever done!
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
There are two main challenges. The first is communication, which is such a big part of the job. It’s really important that all staff are consistently working to the same goals and keeping each other up to date with day to day events, especially when we are all liaising with parents, therapists and carers. The second is the pressure of maintaining high quality medical care. However, this is overcome through regular training and support. For example, one learner required the use of a blood testing device, and to ensure we knew how to operate it the nurses were sent to Birmingham Hospital for training.
What are the key skills required for your role?
Good communication skills are imperative as interaction with therapists, carers, parents and colleagues is ongoing. Organisational skills also play a key role. This includes planning for each year’s learner intake, which requires working with Managers, Deputies and therapists and discussing needs around equipment, medication, training and specialist services. Another important skill is the willingness to go the extra mile when it comes to delivering the very best care for learners and residents. Finally, on a practical note, this role requires keeping up to date with the latest training, such as First Aid, CPR and current legislation.
How does your role make a difference at National Star?
Many parents find it hard to let go of their son or daughter when they’ve cared for them for so many years. Having nurses on-site at National Star reassures them that their welfare is our top priority. Our job is to ensure that each and every learner and resident under our care has the opportunity to get the very most out of their time with National Star and have the experiences they deserve. Without the nursing teams in our residences and the care we provide, with the support of our other teams, many learners just wouldn’t be able to attend. Our holistic approach and way of looking at the whole of an individual’s wellbeing also means that medical requirements don’t have to interfere with their activities and social life. For example, gastrostomy feeds may need to occur six times a day, but these can be scheduled in a way that fits in with study and leisure time.
What training and development have you received?
I have attended the organisation’s regular mandatory training sessions, which cover such areas as Manual Handling, Health and Safety and Equality and Diversity. In addition to this I have received training in subjects specific to my role. These include life support training (comprising of First Aid, CPR and defibrillator training), gastrostomy training, creams and wound care updates, basic swallow training and other development when individual needs require it. Finally, I have received training around people management skills, which includes supervision, appraisals and probation.
What would you say to someone thinking of applying to National Star?
National Star offers a unique environment and a caring, supportive atmosphere that would be hard to find elsewhere. I’d recommend that applicants have a willingness to learn. While some skills can be learned on the job, some ‘softer’ skills like great communication are essential. After all, the role requires interaction with lots of different people day to day, including parents, who often look to nurses for reassurance and guidance.