June 13, 2024

South West News

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London Nurses Celebrate Nursing Support Workers Day

As part of Nursing Support Workers Day (Thurs 23 November), an opportunity to celebrate the incredible work nursing support workers contribute to patient care all year round, two Cygnet Health Care nurses from London have spoken about what inspired them to join the profession.

Anna Kowalska and Melanie Knees are nurses at Cygnet Hospital Beckton, on Tunnan Leys, which provides mental health support to women. It is part of the Cygnet Health Care division.

The aim of Nursing Support Workers Day is to break down some of the preconceptions about nursing support workers and get to the heart of who they are, what they do and why they’re essential to the nursing workforce.

For Anna, her journey as a nursing support worker started nearly nine years ago.

She explained: “I did not have any experience working with mental health at all. However I was always an amazing talker and a very open person with lots of compassion and empathy. A friend who was working in Cygnet advised I would be really good if I became a support worker. I did my research and decided I would like to make a difference and help as many people as I can.”

Anna’s job role has changed many times over the years, she started as a bank staff and worked through various wards, finally settling on the rehabilitation ward.

She continued: “I have met some amazing staff who had the same vision in making other people life’s better. They have also seen my potential and supported me to develop. I got involved with the violence reduction team and became a PMVA instructor and later PMVA and reducing restrictive practice lead for the hospital.”

Describing the best thing about her job, she said it is seeing patients recover and go home.

Anna said: “I have cried many times in my job but this would mostly be tears of joy. Seeing patients get better and get reunited with families and make plans for the future is so rewarding. It’s nice to go home and think that all the hard work has paid off and you have made a difference in another person life.”

For Anna, the biggest preconception about nursing support workers is that there are no opportunities for career progression other than registered nurse.

“When I started I was under the impression the only progression for support workers will be to become a registered nurse,” she said. “My manager helped me to see other options, and I have progressed in the violence reduction field. There are also other opportunities for support staff like social therapist, occupational therapist, social work, training and development, admin and many more.

You don’t need to be a professional to become a NSW, all it takes is to be caring and wanting to make a difference. This job will allow you to see the world in a different light, appreciate what you have and give you the biggest reward any job can give – being proud of changing people’s lives.”

With Melanie, she first decided to become a Support Worker to experience a new challenge for herself.

She explained: “I have always had a caring nature, and wanted to experience helping those in crisis. Initially I thought I might want to specifically help the elderly, then I somehow just seemed to fall into the mental health sector.

“I initially had my reservations, but I think that was as a result of the stereotypes and preconceptions that come along with mental health. Despite this, I was still eager to give it a go. I am so pleased I did.”

Describing her love for the job, she said her fulfilment comes from seeing patients become well again and find their way back into the community, living their lives to the best of their abilities.

She added: “It’s very rewarding when you observed someone you have helped through a difficult time come out the other end and thank you for your help. It is important that they know, we as staff are only a small part of their recovery, and that they have done the hardest part.

“I have also got memorable patients that have come to us very unwell and feeling hopeless that their lives will never be what they want them to be. They often come here adamant that they will not be able to get through this difficult time. It is so positive to see the changes over time.”

For Melanie, no two days are ever the same. She explained: “You never know what kind of day you’re about to walk into, but you just deal with every step as it comes. I could have a day where I’m engaging with patients on the ward environment or I could be going on a trip with them to see family. That’s also nice as you get to meet extended families and actually get to know them as-well. You’re busy from the start of your day up to the end of the day; there is always someone that needs help in one way or another.

“The patients are the same as you. They are people with feelings and emotions they just find it harder to deal with those feelings and harder to speak about them. That’s why I’m there to try and slowly help them and teach them new skills to be able to do that.

“It really is a very rewarding role, you get to meet different people from all different walks of life and you also get to help someone fulfil their life and change their ways of thinking, giving them different tools to help them through a crisis.”

Describing the positive impact of nurses across the sector, David Wilmott, Director of Nursing at Cygnet Health Care said: “The true extent of the work carried out by the nursing support workforce is often hidden, and their value underestimated. Nursing Support Workers’ Day is an opportunity to amplify their voice, raise awareness, and celebrate the work they do.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all of our Nursing Support Workers for the immense job they do in providing high-quality care to all of our service users and residents. They make a huge contribution every day.”