My job

'Give 100% to patients and have the most rewarding career'

Clinical director of Pacific Care Janice Allan says working with older people enables nurses to be autonomous practitioners

Clinical director of Pacific Care Janice Allan says working with older people enables nurses to be autonomous practitioners

What is your job?

I am the clinical director of Pacific Care, a company with a portfolio of care homes. I cover four care homes and a day care centre in Glasgow, Scotland, supporting the managers and working closely with the staff team. I have worked with external agencies to develop a comprehensive training programme and I deliver the dementia training across the company.

Why did you become a nurse?

It had a lot to do with the 1970s TV show Angels – the camaraderie, the uniform, among other aspects. I honestly didn’t know what was involved, but I quickly learned.

Where did you train?

At the former Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow, qualifying in 1981. We learned on the wards and senior staff taught us so much. My fellow students were a great support, and I developed friendships that have lasted. We still reminisce about our experiences on the wards.

When I realised that my future lay in the care of older people, I completed a master’s degree in dementia studies at the University of Stirling.

What has given you most satisfaction?

Service user satisfaction, always. The Playlist for Life charity uses personal playlists to help people living with dementia. It has brought smiles to so many people, reduced stress and medication use. Relatives can struggle when their loved ones are experiencing difficult symptoms, and Playlist for Life has highlighted that quality of life can be improved with innovation and determination.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

My family are amazing and have supported me throughout my career, so we get together and have fun. In the past few years I have also spoiled myself with some world travel.

What or who inspires you, and why? 

Often it is a resident who takes pleasure in the small things in life, a walk in the park or a lovely piece of home baking, everyday moments that make a difference if you are losing independence or have had to leave your home. If I am struggling with workload or motivation, I think of my own parents and what they strived for through their lives – they deserved the best in their older years.

When working with older people what qualities do you think a nurse should possess?

Tenacity, patience and professionalism. You have to advocate for your residents, so you must be knowledgeable clinically. It is important that you understand what matters to the individual and that you are person focused. Work with your colleagues closely and value their opinion.

What advice would you give a newly-registered nurse? 

Follow your instinct and choose an area of nursing that inspires you. Give 100% to your patients and it will be the most rewarding career ever.

Don’t rule out working with older people, you can be an autonomous practitioner and develop real nursing care that makes a difference to lives every day, developing practice that is innovative and exciting.

What is likely to affect nurses working with older people over the next 12 months?

Staff pressures are affecting the NHS and the private sector; budgets are tight and improving patient and resident experience is an ongoing challenge. Hopefully Brexit won't have a negative impact on our nurse recruitment and retention from Europe – that would be detrimental – we have great European and overseas nurses and care staff.

You were shortlisted in the 2018 Nursing Older People category of the RCNi Nurse Awards. Why are the awards so important to the profession?

It is great to see nursing celebrated. All of the award nominees were inspirational, often going to incredible lengths to improve services and experiences. Three cheers for everyone who was nominated and to RCNi for organising the awards.

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