Careers

Why all healthcare professionals should be trained in older people's care

Cliff Kilgore, recently elected chair of the British Geriatrics Society Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Group, on why all healthcare professionals should be trained in older people’s care
Cliff Kilgore

Cliff Kilgore, recently elected chair of the British Geriatrics Society Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Group, on why all healthcare professionals should be trained in older peoples care.

How did you become an older peoples nurse?

Ive never seen it as a specialty, but as part of my job as a nurse. Most patients are of an older and older age. I work in the Bournemouth area, as nurse consultant intermediate care at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, where we have a large older population.

What might you have done otherwise?

I was a bank manager until my thirties and retrained as a nurse in 1996. I did a three-year degree at Bournemouth University. I chose nursing and healthcare because the part of banking I did enjoy was the contact with people, feeling that you could make

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Cliff Kilgore, recently elected chair of the British Geriatrics Society Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Group, on why all healthcare professionals should be trained in older people’s care.

How did you become an older people’s nurse?

I’ve never seen it as a specialty, but as part of my job as a nurse. Most patients are of an older and older age. I work in the Bournemouth area, as nurse consultant intermediate care at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, where we have a large older population.

Cliff Kilgore
Cliff Kilgore

What might you have done otherwise?

I was a bank manager until my thirties and retrained as a nurse in 1996. I did a three-year degree at Bournemouth University. I chose nursing and healthcare because the part of banking I did enjoy was the contact with people, feeling that you could make a difference.

What qualities do you think a good older people’s nurse has to have?

Being interested in people, understanding their needs and being an excellent communicator. The other great quality is co-ordinating care. Nursing is pivotal in healthcare as we are often the professionals who are most involved with people, certainly on wards. The majority of patients come into contact with nurses most of the time. 

What is the greatest challenge you have faced?

The ongoing challenge through the massive increase in longevity so the complexity of disease is much greater than it used to be, even in the 17 years I’ve been a nurse. What is a simple chest infection to a 20-year-old is very different in your nineties or at 100. The real challenge is how we treat people when they are of great age, that we don’t ignore treatment or over-treat them.

Was it a career coup to become chair of the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) Nurses and Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) Group?

It was a privilege, but I don’t see it as a career step as much as one of service. It means a national profile and a national involvement promoting the care of older people. That is important if you are going to be a consultant practitioner of any sort.

What do you hope to do with that national platform?

The BGS has the potential to be a multiprofessional organisation, as multiprofessional working is crucial in older people’s care. I’m hoping to integrate nursing and AHPs more with our medical colleagues, and try to build, or help to build, a society that influences older people’s care nationally. 

Do you ever have sleepless nights because of work?

No. As you become more experienced you know that you have done your best for someone, so you go home knowing you could have done no better. If you can do that the sleepless nights tend to disappear.

What advice would you give to a newly-qualified older person’s nurse?

If you are paid to be at work seven and a half hours or if you are doing a 12-hour shift, you need to finish on time. Achieve what you can, but don’t be one of those nurses who feels that if they go home the whole thing will fall apart. When you go off work with stress or fatigue, it does go on without you.

What do you do outside of work?

I’m married and have a daughter who is 13. My family is a big part of my life. I have always been keen on keeping fit. In terms of stress management and managing work-life balance, being healthy and physically fit is vital. 

What would you change if you could?

The main aim of training all healthcare professionals should be to educate them about older people’s care. We train nurses, doctors and therapists with a well adult, the person who accesses healthcare the least.

If we concentrated on older people we would cope better with difficulties at work; not knowing how to deal with a 90-year-old person who has fallen and it is difficult to make them better. It’s about how you make them as good as they can be.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

There’s a lot further to go in my current position as I became a nurse consultant about a year ago. My aim is to see how far I can push the healthcare agenda for older people locally and nationally.


Further information

www.bgs.org.uk/index.php/nurses-and-ahps

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