From Care Assistant to Care Home Manager, an inspiring story of Lucy Bolland, Beech House Care Home Nurse Manager

Table of Contents

Lucy, Nurse Manager, Bristol Care Homes, Beech House, Thornbury

We are happy to be sharing a beautiful, touching interview with Lucy Bolland who has started her career here at Bristol Care Homes as a bank nurse 10 years ago and today she is leading our care home Beech House in Thornbury.

How long have you been a nurse?

I first qualified as a Registered Nurse 18 years ago, but I actually started my career in care here at Beech House, about 20 years ago when I worked briefly as a carer. I then went to Surrey University in Guildford where I did my nurse training.

I had always wanted to be a nurse, since I was four years old. I have always wanted to help people and make a difference in peoples’ lives. So, I followed my dream, worked really hard at school and went on to university. I stayed in the Surrey area for almost 10 years following my graduation as an NHS nurse working in gynaecology, general surgery and an early pregnancy unit.

Following 10 years in Surrey, I relocated with my young family back to Thornbury and thought “I know where I’d like to go, Beech House!”. So, 10 years ago, I walked into the home, had an interview and got a job as a Bank Nurse; this gave me the flexibility that I needed to also have time to raise my family.

In addition, I wanted to see how I felt about care home nursing as opposed to hospital nursing. It was a big adjustment and very different to hospital nursing, but very enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed being able to support people in a homely and warm environment, unlike the turnover of patients that you see in a hospital. Within a care home setting you are really able to get to know the residents and their families and create meaningful connections. This is something I really do enjoy about the role. I feel I can really make a difference in people’s lives. It was a complete career pathway change from hospital nursing to being part of a community as a care home nurse, but I feel it is so much more rewarding and fulfilling as job.

As a Bank Nurse at Beech House, I worked initially every other weekend, then I started picking up more and more shifts. I had young children, so I needed lots of flexibility and luckily the manager at that time was very accommodating. I was able to pick up shifts during the week around my children, this way I managed to maintain a good work-life balance.

Then COVID hit and I had to decide whether to continue working and keep my children in school, or to stop working altogether. In the end, with the help of Bristol Care Homes who gave me new challenges and new opportunities, I decided to continue working to look after our residents. Even though it was a really difficult time, and I was doing more and more hours, I felt that I was making a bigger and bigger difference in our residents’ lives.

During this time, I started supporting management undertaking some administration tasks including the rotas and audits. At that point I was given the opportunity to step up and support both the management and our residents by getting more involved in the running of the home. I really enjoyed it and saw different ways of how the home was run; I understood the pressures from different perspective.

I then went back to nursing ‘on the floor’ looking after our residents. At that moment, our CEO, Rich Crocker, offered me the opportunity to step up again transferring to Quarry House as interim Deputy Nurse Manager; I happily said yes. Quarry House is a much larger home then Beech House, but I felt very supported by Tina, the home’s Nurse Manager. I learned an awful lot in a very short space of time.

Then a permanent Deputy Nurse Manager vacancy became available at Glebe House and once again I knew I had to step up. At this point my children were older and I knew that with Bristol Care Homes’ support I could take on the responsibility of a full-time management role without affecting my work-life balance. I enjoyed working as Deputy Nurse Manager at Glebe House and did so for 2 years. During this time, I learned a huge amount from Natalia, the home’s Nurse Manager.

Then 4 months ago, another opportunity presented itself, the Nurse Manager position at Beech House became available and once again with the help and support of Bristol Care Homes, I put myself forward.

So, if we look over the timeline, I started my career in care some 20 years ago at Beech House as a carer. I returned 10 years later as a Bank Nurse following my training and working in the NHS hospital environment. During the last 10 years I have worked at Beech House as a Bank Nurse, then started supporting management, then moved on to Quarry House as the Interim Deputy Nurse Manager, I then worked at Glebe House for 2 years as Deputy Nurse Manager, and finally, 4 months ago I come back at Beech House, where it all started, as the Nurse Manager.

What initially motivated you to take up nursing as a career?

I have always had this inner calling to be a nurse and help people, it feels like it is part of who I am, not what I do. I also think my auntie who is a nurse inspired me.

What motivated you to move into management?

I wanted to continue to make a real difference in our residents’ and staff’s lives, but I also wanted to develop my career. Seeing that different side of running a care home given by the opportunity to get involved initially in the management of Beech House and then taking the opportunity to act as Interim Deputy Nurse Manager at Quarry House motivated me to pursue my dream and develop my career, then moving to Glebe house into a permanent role.

I am not saying moving into management was easy, but the fact that I had Bristol Care Homes’ support and that I had previous experience working in a multidisciplinary team with GPs and other professionals, helped me into taking my career to the next level.

Why did you choose to work for Bristol Care Homes?

I chose to work for Bristol Care Homes because it was and still is a well-established, well-embedded care home in the community. The owners have a really good ethos which resonates with me. Beech House was and is a lovely environment, and is local, just as I am, so I feel I am making a difference not only for the residents that we are supporting, but to have a positive impact in the community.

What made you stay so many years with Bristol Care Homes and pursue a management career?

Besides Bristol Care Homes giving me the flexibility I needed, access to the training I wanted and all the support I needed, I think I also felt motivated to stay because they really believed in me. They saw my capability to grow and develop my career.

Bristol Care Homes appreciated that I was also quite flexible and versatile with the way I worked. I have always felt supported no matter where I worked within Bristol Care Homes. Whenever I came with ideas to the management, they have always listened and supported them; we’d work through them together and to see those goals be realised.

When I worked as Bank Nurse, it never felt like I was a Bank Nurse because I did a high number of shifts. I had the best of both worlds (work and personal life) because I had the flexibility to work around the home’s requirements, but also around my needs.

I have always had the support of senior nurses and management within all the homes, I was able to learn an awful lot from Tina, the Nurse Manager at Quarry House, who also supported me when I was given the opportunity to do my level 5 management leadership training in health and social care and then develop and learn even more while working with Natalia the Nurse Manager at Glebe House. With Bristol Care Homes’ support, I was able to complete the course whilst working full-time.

Here at Bristol Care Homes, there is always the opportunity for training and development, especially in areas I found of interest, I have always felt supported, and they have always helped me to explore all the potential avenues of training and development. In the last 10 years here, I have been able to attend lots of other training which has helped me learn new skills and develop my existing clinical skills, which had quite often been specific to each home and the needs of the residents we have. For these reasons I have been motivated to stay with Bristol Care Homes.

I am very grateful that Bristol Care Homes recognised my potential and gave me opportunities to grow and develop professionally. I have always had that drive to make things better and develop myself, to make changes, to improve, and this was recognised within the homes. All opportunities also came at the right time. For example, COVID this was very difficult and made me question continuing working in this environment, so the opportunity to step up came at the right time as it presented a new challenge, something new to focus on and a new career area to develop.

Do you find that moving into management has taken you away from ‘hands on’ nursing?

Yes and no. I do miss spending my work hours principally involved with hands on nursing, however I still get very involved in the nursing aspects of the home. I’ll be the first one arriving when the emergency bell goes off and I’ll be the first one giving staff support with something clinical because I still have those clinical skills and it is important for me to keep using them. I am always willing to learn and develop my skills to ensure I am able to continue to support staff with their skills.

I also enjoy making time to have meaningful interactions with residents and their families, which I am able to create and build into my working days.

Are there any particular aspects of nursing that you miss?

Once again, sometimes I miss doing more hands-on nursing for our residents, but I think the feeling of fulfilment I get by doing my job as a Nurse Manager and supporting not only our residents, but also staff, families, friends is more than enough for me.

How does a typical workday look like? What are your responsibilities as a Nurse Manager?

I think the best way to describe this role is that you never know what you will walk into, and you are always spinning many plates; but you can follow through and see the positive outcomes. Working together as a team is important to me.

No two days are the same, which creates variety. I quite like that the job can be unpredictable because it keeps me on my toes, it gives me a challenge, and I like to have a challenge to keep going and developing within my role.

Responsibilities of the job include managing the home and ensuring it is managed safely, effectively, that our residents are safe, supported, well-cared for and making sure their families are supported. Another important part of the role is making sure our staff are supported, that everyone is doing their job and supporting them to do this. Across the home, all staff are treated the same irrespective of whether they work as domestics, carers or nurses, they are all valuable and have their own parts to play in ensuring the home is run safely and well and all of our residents’ needs are being met.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career so far?

I think that would definitely have to be covid. I think any nurse, nurse manager or anyone in the care sector within any job role would agree that it was a really, really difficult time to nurse and work in this sector. And as I said, it did cause me to question my motivation to continue doing nursing, but changing my role and what I was doing gave me a new enthusiasm for it. I felt supported, we had the help and equipment that we needed and there was nothing the company could have done differently or more. It was just a very challenging time.

What is the best/most rewarding thing about being a home manager?

Seeing our residents happy, having meaningful conversations with family and staff and knowing that the small things make so much difference. It is also very rewarding to see staff develop and blossom within their job roles, making a big difference to families and supporting them through what can be a very difficult journey.

What advice would you offer to someone thinking about a career in care home nursing?

To go for it. It is really rewarding, and you can make such a difference to someone’s life. There is a lot of bad press around care homes, negativity around being just a care home nurse, but that is far from the truth. You are very autonomous in your job role, you must think on your toes and make decisions quickly, you manage and lead a team and the role involves so much more, I really would recommend Care Home work to anyone.

Within Bristol Care Homes, there is so much support, that you never feel alone. There is always that backup and you can really make a difference to people. It is a fulfilling career. You get the time to build relationships, time you wouldn’t get within the NHS. It is also wonderful that this is the residents’ home, we are in their home, we are supporting them in their environment. We are one big family, residents, staff, families, everyone. It’s like working in another home away from home.

Any other interesting details or stories you might want to add.

There are lots of stories, so just to think of one would be very difficult. I would just like to add that I feel I have been so supported by Bristol Care Homes throughout my journey here. Rich and Geoff, our Chairman, recognise their staff and their involvement in the home. It is not a big company in which you can feel lost, they make a real effort to know everybody, and with the right support and development, people can really progress.

If you would like to join Bristol Care Homes, please click here to see our current vacancies.

Share this post...


Table of Contents

Follow us on Facebook

Recent Posts