Yvonne Manson, Dementia Nurse Consultant at Balhousie Care Group received an award for leadership at the RCNi Nurse Awards on 4 July. Here she tells us about how she has climbed the ladder of success working in care homes and how she uses SSSC Step into Leadership and Promoting Excellence to improve.
‘On 4 July I attended the RCNi Nurse Awards in London as a finalist in the leadership category and was overjoyed when I was announced as winner. Being a finalist had already had a really positive impact with people asking me more about careers in care homes. I felt it helped reduce the stigma and the false belief that you can’t have a successful career in care homes, which for those who know me is something I promote regularly.
‘I started working in care homes when I was 19 as a care assistant on night shift and realised very quickly that dementia care was what I wanted to specialise in. After a few years I applied to complete my degree in mental health nursing and was supported throughout my training by the care home organisation I worked for. People tried to talk me out of going back to care homes once I qualified as a nurse but I knew that was where I wanted to be, the threats that I would become deskilled, or be stuck in a dead end job were not enough to dampen the passion I had for working in the sector.
‘Anyone who works in the sector knows that far from becoming de-skilled it takes specialist knowledge to work in the sector, and that there is extensive learning and development available to workers. My passion was dementia care and through care homes I was able to increase my knowledge in dementia by working with the people who live and work in care homes to improve my knowledge. I completed several courses, including my management SVQ before then going on to complete my MSc in Dementia Studies all supported by the care home company.
‘Over the past 23 years I have worked in various job roles; I’ve been a care assistant, nurse, charge nurse and a care home manager. I’m now in my dream job as dementia nurse consultant at Balhousie Care Group. I work across 25 care homes and run a successful dementia learning programme that supports people who live and work in care homes. I lead on dementia activities which involves auditing, researching and most importantly, staff development using the Promoting Excellence framework and dementia learning resources alongside working with people with dementia.
‘I use the SSSC Step into Leadership resources and enjoy the reflection and collaboration materials in particular as we share and learn with other partners including Scottish Care. I am a great believer in ‘together we achieve more’ and together we have improved outcomes for those who live and work in our care homes.
‘Your passion may not be working with people with dementia, it might be meaningful activities, wound care, continence, stroke, rehabilitation or palliative care. The list is endless, but you can explore all of these working in social care, all you need is the passion and drive to do it.’