A passion for caring

Trainee nursing associate Carley Kane is hoping to qualify soon – and already has big plans for encouraging the ‘nursing family’ of tomorrow

Carley Kane has just completed her nursing associate training and, all going well, is expecting her pin in the next month or so. She intends to continue working on the acute medical unit of University Hospital of North Durham (UHND) for a time, to consolidate her training, before embarking on the next steps towards her ambition of becoming a nurse.

But Carley’s dedication to healthcare goes way beyond her work on the wards. The 31-year-old is involved in numerous professional undertakings. She’s a patient safety champion, helping to promote good practice within her trust; is involved with Civility Saves Lives, an initiative aimed at engendering positive teamwork; and having been a course rep, she’s now helping Teeside University with its trainee nursing associate prospectus, so happy was she with her own studies there.

She’s also hoping to become a rep with the County Durham Healthcare branch, and maybe even a regional rep for nursing associates and trainees.

And on top of all of that, Carley has a fervant passion to promote what she sees as ”the nursing family” far and wide – not least to the youngsters who could make up the nursing professionals of the future.

This is my opportunity to get involved with as many things as possible

Self-motivated and dedicated, Carley exemplifies the spirit of nursing. And for her, the caring instinct came early – she was 15 when her father died, leaving her with a “big caring responsibility” towards her younger sister. She later worked in a nursing home for about seven years, before joining UHND as a healthcare assistant. It was her manager in the acute medical unit who recommended she join the trainee nursing associate (TNA) programme.

“I’m passionate about caring for people. I loved my healthcare assistant role, but I always wanted more,” she says cheerfully. “I’ve just felt so grateful – towards the trust and my management for helping me progress, and the university as well, because everyone involved in the delivery of the programme was so supportive. And I felt, right, this is my opportunity to get involved with as many things as possible.”

One of these was Nursing Now England, which like the global Nursing Now is aimed at  raising the profile and status of nursing. Carley’s work with the campaign included a visit to a local school in Birmingham and taking part in The Transformation Trust Rock Assembly, an event at Wembley where students can engage directly with employers through live activities – Carley led an ‘acute station’ for young adults, instructing them in areas such as CPR and sepsis.

This gave Carley the idea for her own project, aimed at six-year-olds, which she charmingly calls SCHOOLarship.

“We have a lot of colleagues throughout the country doing one-off school visits,” she explains. “I thought I’d really like to work with one school for a period of time – my local school Sunnybrow Primary. The idea is that we do 12 sessions, one a month, and create mini-modules for the children – with things like inclusion, equality, team work, infection control, health promotion, mini-maths.

“I thought with the continuity of the Schoolarship it could give a bit more depth to the children’s experience,” she continues. “And then at the end they will get a certificate of completion. And what I’d love to do with the school is to have a little celebration event, a graduation. I think that would be awesome.”

She’s determined that the project would be more than just “a lovely idea” and would have genuine purpose, whether it’s modules like inclusion and kindness eliciting positive behaviour, or the experience as a whole planting a seed in children’s minds of working in the nursing professions themselves.

I’m obsessed with my job, honestly. It’s what I love and I always feel I want to be giving more

Carley had the support both of the school’s head teacher and many of her health colleagues, who offered to help with modules. “It’s important we represent all nursing professionals,” she says, “our healthcare assistants, TNAs, nursing associates, nurses, everyone within the nursing family.”

The idea has also been championed by none other than Mark Radford, Health Education England’s chief nurse, who namechecked Carley in his recent speech to the chief nurse’s summit. There’s talk now of encouraging other teams to introduce SCHOOLarship programmes in their local schools.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak has stalled Carley’s dream, as it has so many others.

While intending to launch SCHOOLarship during this Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Carley has taken the decision to postpone the project in light of the health crisis.

“I felt it was just not the right time, and the school agreed,” she says. “This is to avoid unnecessary stress and worry for parents and to comply with the guidance on social distancing.

“We’re still invested in this, but the SCHOOLarship work will only commence once it’s absolutely appropriate to do so.”

In the meantime, Carley’s enthusiasm for the profession is in no danger of flagging.

“I’m obsessed with my job, honestly. It’s what I love and I always feel I want to be giving more. I want to give to the community as well, not just within the hospital, and not just with patients – I want to nurture everyone.”

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