Ruth has worked at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Stagenhoe for over 30 years. Now the Unit Lead, she talks about starting out with Sue Ryder, how no two days are ever the same at the centre and the lessons she's learned from her experiences providing unique, compassionate care for people living with neurological conditions.
I qualified in 1979 and always assumed I’d stay working for the NHS my whole career. After I had my first child I had to move and I ended up working for an agency and one of the places I got sent was Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Stagenhoe. I ended up working here several times over the course of a year. After my second maternity leave, I remembered how much I had enjoyed working at the centre so got in touch and the rest is history. I’ve now worked at the centre for over 30 years.
There were several things that appealed to me about working here, which are still true today. There is nothing run-of-the-mill about working here. Each day is different and I have the chance to care for people and gain experience in neurological conditions that I hadn’t really come across in my previous roles.
A different kind of care
When I first started here, the centre was predominantly focused on caring for people with Huntingdon’s Disease. It has changed a bit in recent years, but the unit I lead is still mostly people with the condition. There is no predictability when you are working with people who have Huntingdon’s Disease, so no two days are the same. Some people need a lot of clinical care, which we obviously provide, but there are also people whose physical behaviour is affected.
Historically, there has been a lot of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding those with the condition and a lot of this stemmed from the type of behaviours that someone with Huntingdon’s Disease can exhibit. Here at the centre we have the knowledge and expertise to make sure everyone gets the help they need. It can be challenging, but it is very rewarding and a sense of humour certainly helps.
We are so used to the type of client group we have here that we can forget that some people perhaps aren’t so used to it. There are some clinical things that we do here that new staff members can find difficult at first, the way we work is so different from a traditional care setting that it can be quite challenging for them.
“People who work for us might not be specialists when they arrive, but it is great to see them develop skills and learn how to care for people with complex neurological conditions”
We often have students on placement here at the centre as well. I can remember one, who on first hearing where she was going to be working, saw the word ‘care’ and thought ,‘Oh great, another care home’. At the end of her time with us she did a presentation, talking through her experience, and her mindset had been completely changed. Often people assume that the centre will just be full of elderly people, but that is absolutely not the case, Stagenhoe is definitely not ‘just a care home.’
People who come and work for us might not be specialists when they arrive, but it is great to see them develop skills and learn how to care for people with complex neurological conditions. Communication with the residents is also something that new colleagues can find challenging at first, but often after just a few weeks they will have learnt a great deal about how to communicate with someone who is non-verbal, which is great to see.
Interested in working in neurological care?
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