Charlotte Baseley knew at just 4 years old that she wanted to be a nurse. She became intrigued by a visit to the hospital to see her grandparents and was enamoured with the work the nurses were doing. However, it took Charlotte until she was 23 years old to feel confident enough to apply and begin her nursing journey in the NHS. “It wasn’t easy”, she tells me. “I was considered a mature student and no one had much guidance for me. Then I discovered an Access to Nursing course and the rest, as they say, is history.”
During her time as a newly qualified Junior Nurse, Charlotte was unjustly subjected to a severely traumatic event that led to her suffering a mental breakdown. Charlotte gave up nursing altogether while she took some time to process what had happened and piece her life back together. After a short stint working in care homes, Charlotte worked up the courage to apply to University and return to nursing. “I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I got myself together and gained my confidence back. I got my nursing PIN back, I got me back and I won.”
Charlotte got her nursing PIN back just in time to help the country and was back working for the NHS when Covid hit. “It was the most intense and strange experience and the stress of the workload took its toll on me. I wanted to go back to where I was happy and be able to care the way I love to. Taking time, chatting and getting to know the person you are caring for. I’d recently moved to Devon and Hatherleigh Nursing Home popped up with a nurse vacancy. I am all for taking signs from the universe. I applied and here I am.”
Could you tell me about your role at Hatherleigh? What is the difference between an NHS Nurse and a Social Care Nurse?
Here I can get to know people. I’m not rushed to process them through to discharge or to a ward. When you have enough time to get to know someone you learn what they are responsive to. I can take the time to engage in different ways which means events such as daily administration of medication, which some people find upsetting, is more successful.
There’s paperwork, responsibilities and policies like in all places, but in Hatherleigh, it’s person-centred. In a hospital, we try so, so hard to be person-centred and take time with a patient but it’s just not a luxury we can afford. When you work on the wards you try to get to know patients and if they are staying long term you do your best. But in Hatherleigh, each Family Member is extremely well known.
How did you find your first day at Hatherleigh?
I loved it and I was ready to come back for more. It’s very inclusive, you’re new and everyone wants to know who you are, what you do and how they can help you to settle in. I was constantly told “if you need anything just ask”, and you could tell everyone really meant it.
How would you describe the team at Hatherleigh?
The most individual bunch of humans I have ever met, with the biggest of hearts and passion for what they do. The Domestic team – who can I just say is AMAZING and so diverse, will help however they can. The catering team make sure everyone is looked after. But the Carers – they work so hard and try to achieve the best possible care. I would 100000% put my relative in this care home and sleep easy at night, which is no mean feat for a nurse.
What support do you receive from the team that you didn’t in an A&E environment?
Our manager, Ashley – I can talk to her about anything. I am a person. If I have something going on and I feel it’s going to affect my work, I can talk to her and she will solve it. Her way of management makes all the difference in the world.
Can you sum up our training in 3 words?
Unique, fun, and informative.
How has the team at Hatherleigh helped you to heal from your negative experiences as a Junior Nurse?
They have been SO supportive. Faye, one of our Care Practitioners has been the most supportive and is an amazing human, I have big love for her. Working in healthcare is part of what saved me. This career gives you so much more than a paycheck. It gives you purpose and reason.
What is your favourite part about being a part of the Evolve family?
I can literally be myself. Nursing can be very cliquey and I often felt not good enough. Not in Hatherleigh – you are celebrated for who you are.
What is your favourite part about being a nurse?
The privilege of being a part of people’s lives at such a delicate and vulnerable time.
What is a piece of advice you would give to your younger self? Is there anything you would have done differently?
You are enough and if you really want it – you WILL achieve it. Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Because it’s made me who I am, and I quite like me.
What opportunities do you think nurses have in the care sector that isn’t available to them in the NHS?
There’s more training, more supervision and better career guidance. They also offer more time to take on further education.
How do you think Evolve supports its team members to meet the goals they want to achieve and progress in the care sector?
I have expressed a desire to pursue further degrees in Dementia Care and Care of Senior Adults. I feel this will be supported. Ashley is literally on it with training and if you say you want certain training in a specific area, she works with you to find a course and that encourages you to participate.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about starting out in the care sector but is worried they won’t be able to progress or have a “successful” career?
It’s a common misconception that successful nurses are high up in hospitals only. This is not true. The care sector has so many clinical positions and speciality positions. I have a good friend who has become a clinical lead in the care sector and she’s very happy. Nursing is not a one size fits all. If you want to succeed and progress, then the opportunities are there.
Finally, would you recommend a career in social care nursing and why?
YES! I finally found where I am most happy as a nurse in social care. I can nurse, and be clinical, but also be a friend, a confidante and part of a family. I can look after people in my own timescale and take time where it’s needed. Nursing in hospitals is amazing, but social care also has so much to offer. If you want a career in it, talk to a nurse already there.
If you’re a nurse looking for a career with progression and a solid support system that gives you more time to provide emotional support to the people in your care, then we want to hear from you.