By Andy Cook, Chief Nurse, Advantage Healthcare

As the NHS turns 70 it is rightly a time to celebrate the achievements and successes of a service that has met the needs of the nation over several generations. Nursing makes up the largest professional community within the NHS and, more widely, across health and social care. It is easy to talk about one profession being the ‘back bone’, or another ‘at the heart of’, the system, but it is difficult to envisage any of our health or care services operating without the nursing profession acting as not only the deliverer of high quality care but also as the glue that holds systems together.

There are 690,000 nurses and midwives on the NMC register, but only 300,000 of these work directly within the NHS, less than half. Whilst the value of nursing within the NHS is, quite rightly, recognized and lauded by the public, the role of nursing outside the NHS is less often recognized.

The wider health and care system in the country is supported by nurses in many different environments, many of whom work in services that directly support the NHS and the care of people it provides for. These services may involve long-term social care, support for surgical waiting lists or enabling people with long-term complex healthcare needs to live as independently as they can.

We must also recognize the value of nursing in the wholly independent care environment, providing expert patient-focused care to people who have chosen to fund it themselves, whether in hospital, home or care home establishments. Whilst there can be a healthy political or ideological debate about the rights or wrongs of this, those patients are people who deserve the same level of compassionate nursing care as each and every NHS funded patient.

So I do not think we should contextualise our celebration of the NHS purely in terms of NHS nursing. Nursing is a bigger community, the majority of us borne out of the NHS at some stage in our careers. Moving into other nursing environments does not mean a turning away from the principles or values of the NHS, indeed it often continues to promote those values by providing services that support and deliver the NHS objective.

However, wherever you find nursing you will find committed and dedicated care that puts the individual first and this, arguably, makes the model of funding for the person whose life we touch, very much a secondary concern. The NHS is amazing and I am proud to have learnt, developed and progressed as a result of the training it gave me; but I am proud also to lead nurses and care staff outside the NHS who work every day to support patients who rely on the NHS for their care, dignity and quality of life. Nursing and the NHS are forever entwined, whether in it or supporting it, and that is truly something to celebrate.

(First published in the RCN Executive Nurse Network Newsletter September 2018)

Colleagues from Advantage Healthcare’s Greater Manchester team have won an award for the care they provided during March’s bad weather.

The Mayor of Tameside Cllr Joyce Bowerman presented IHC’s Vicky Judge and her colleague Hayley Connor with the award, which was made anonymously by a service user. The award ceremony was hosted by Daisy Dignity in Care.

Tim Wilde, commissioning services, Tameside Borough Council, said the award was for IHC’s “dedication and exemplary team working during the very inclement and challenging weather conditions during the winter months”.

The award was given to Vicky and Hayley at the Albion Church, Ashton.

Vicky, IHC’s registered manager, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the team’s dedication has been recognised in this way. Our staff went to incredible lengths to ensure that high-quality care to vulnerable patients continued, irrespective of the conditions.

“One of our carers fitted snow chains to his wheels to make appointments, another slept out on the M62 when it was closed for nine hours but still risked it again the following day, several walked long distances because the roads were impassable and another worked for 24 hours, sleeping at the patient’s house, to ensure cover was maintained.

“We have dozens of stories of our staff going well above and beyond the call of duty. It made me immensely proud.”

September is fast approaching, and for some this means the start of the academic year and the start of something new. Beginning a new chapter in your life can be daunting, but at the same time very exciting. There are many things you will need to organise, such as accommodation, travel and your workload and timetable. This can be a challenging time and you may require additional support.

As well as working hard during your education to gain vital experience and knowledge, it is important to enjoy yourself and grow as a person. Socialising with friends and having your own independence is sometimes the main attraction for moving away and going into further education. If you require extra support, this could be something else to consider when you are preparing for your new challenge.

Advantage Healthcare’s Academic Support Service is here for those who require a little extra support or have more complex care requirements whilst undertaking higher education.

We can provide support in most situations, covering long and short term, live-in care or daily care. Our Nurses, Healthcare Assistants and Support Workers are carefully selected to ensure their skills are well suited to your personality and care requirements.

We believe that students benefit from receiving individual care and support in their higher education years. To be able to take part in social events with friends, cinema trips, and all the usual activities that students can take part in will improve your general health and physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing.

If you would like to discuss our academic support with somebody please call 0800 694 4555.