Career advice

Faith in the system

Nurses often receive in-house training for their work with residents at faith-based nursing homes.

As might be expected from such a religiously diverse country, the UK has a wide range of faith-based health institutions that offer career opportunities for nurses.

Picture credit: Photofusion

One example is Jewish Care, a faith-based social care provider in London and south east England, with about 70 centres or services caring for 7,000 people. The organisation’s 11 care homes have more than 650 residents and, according to its assistant director for care services, Gaby Wills, four homes employ around 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) nurses between them.

The nursing skills required by staff at Jewish Care are increasing, Ms Wills says. ‘The profile of nursing home residents has changed dramatically, with more complex conditions requiring greater skill from our nursing staff than in the past.

‘With no doctors on site, nurses are not simply responsible for administering medications, but for making important decisions about residents’ day-to-day and longer term nursing and care needs.’

Ms Wills says there are no special religious requirements for its nurses, but Jewish Care training covers an awareness of the Jewish way of life and spiritual needs.

Hijama is the traditional Islamic therapeutic practice of wet cupping, where blood is drawn by vacuum from a small skin incision often performed for aches or pains. Yasin Sharif, who runs Luton’s Hijama Clinic, says registered nurses are well positioned to establish their own clinic. ‘Hijama involves dealing with blood, so you need to know how to handle and dispose of blood correctly. Registered nurses are competent in these standards.’

Elizabeth Mandeya, who joined Jewish Care as a nurse before being promoted to registered manager, says: ‘Working at Jewish Care has definitely exposed me to many career opportunities, including training and personal development programmes.’

St Vincent’s Catholic nursing home, based in Pinner, London, has 60 beds and also features a chapel, where daily mass and morning prayers are held. Matron Shiria Halsey says people of all faiths are accepted, and the mass and prayers are optional; residents can also follow the services on TV from their rooms. The residents range from low dependency to those needing close attention, including some with mild dementia.

The home’s 18 full-time and part-time nurses come from Britain, Nepal, Jamaica, the Philippines, Pakistan and India, and it is not a requirement that staff are Catholic.

Ms Halsey says that most are long-term staff who enjoy the working environment: ‘This creates an added value as the nurses and residents know each other well. We have life histories on the residents so we treat them as individuals.’

Registered nurses undertake in-house competency training, particularly in drug administration, as well as additional training, such as in Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, stroke and end of life care.

Nurse Annette Quinlan joined St Vincent’s eight years ago and was promoted to wing leader four years later. ‘I have been able to progress here and completed many different courses,’ she says, including diabetes, dementia, wound care and bereavement. She has also become lead nurse on the National Gold Standards Framework for optimising care for those approaching end of life.

Further information

Jewish Care

St Vincent’s nursing nome

Luton Hijama clinic

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