The 18th of October saw the result of months of nominations, interviews and preparations for the annual Barchester Care Awards.
With over 200 care homes and seven independent mental health hospitals across the UK, Barchester holds the annual awards ceremony to recognise the commitment, passion and quality care provided by the teams across the business. The nominations for the finalists come from both colleagues and relatives of those within a Barchester care home or hospital.
As October 2017 is the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the first Barchester care home, this year’s awards were an extra special occasion.
Hosted in the Midland Hotel in Manchester, the finalists, their relatives and colleagues gathered to enjoy a welcoming champagne reception followed by a 3-course meal interspersed with awards and accolades to the overall winner from each of the 13 categories.
Everyone within a Barchester care home or hospital team can make a difference and this is acknowledged by the awards presented, which include ‘Maintenance Champion’, ‘Apprentice’, ‘Home Administration Champion’, ‘Carer’ and ‘Nurse of the Year’. This year’s ‘Nurse of the Year’ was awarded to Alina Brehar, a Unit Manager from Drummond Grange Care Home in Edinburgh.
Alina responds to her achievement, “It’s an honour to have been nominated, let alone win. When I was little I dreamed about being a nurse, but I didn’t think I would ever win an award for nursing! I grew up and trained in Romania, which is very different from here. I started my career in an emergency hospital, but after I graduated I knew I wanted to develop my nursing career in the UK.”
Like many nurses coming from Eastern Europe, Alina worked as a Care Assistant while waiting for her NMC Registration. She recalls, “The day I could work as a nurse was amazing; it was great to be able to provide nursing care to our residents. I’ve now worked my way up from Staff Nurse to heading up a 48-bed unit for younger residents with conditions such as acquired brain or spinal injury, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s.”
“I’ve learned so much since being with Barchester and received more training than I thought possible. Our unit cares for people who are ventilated, catheterised and need PEG feeding, so I’ve gained the skills to manage and observe these interventions. In addition, I also manage a team of approximately 50 staff, which is a very different skillset. I’m just about to start my NVQ 5 in Leadership; it’s a big step, but one I’m really looking forward to.”
Alina explains what being a care home nurse requires, “You have to be so many different things. We’re responsible for making each and every day the best it can possibly be for our residents. You have to be passionate, caring and, most importantly, you need to give your time. I’ve found that taking a few minutes to sit, talk and listen to each resident can make a huge difference to their day. It could be as simple as checking how well they slept, listening to their concerns or finding out what they want to eat that day. It’s my responsibility to look after their physical and emotional needs.”
“Building relationships with residents and their relatives is a primary focus. We’re planning how we can best support each person from their initial resident assessment. Due to their complex conditions, many of our residents can’t speak, so often families talk for them, but we learn how each resident can communicate, for example through facial expressions or movements with their hands.”
There were four incredible nurses who were nominated for the ‘Nurse of the Year’ award, so Alina feels particularly proud to be the winner. She remarks, “I’m delighted to win the award, but this isn’t just for me: it’s for my team, home and residents. Our home has an environment of trust, empowerment and support. This gives my team the right structure to support residents and I’m just honoured to be able to lead them to give the best quality in care.”
Eleanor Wilson, General Manager from Drummond Grange, commented, “We’re delighted Alina has won ‘Nurse of the Year’, it’s so well deserved – everyday her heart shines through in what she does. She’s a highly skilled nurse who is humble, loving and big hearted. She even showed her dedication by flying back from her holiday so she could attend the awards ceremony and honour everyone who nominated her. She’s an asset to the home and loved by all our residents.”