Proud to be a student nurse


The person-centred care promoted at Barchester has helped their senior care assistant Peter Crabb, in his first year of study as a student nurse.

Each year thousands of people decide to dedicate their lives to the care of others by becoming a nurse. Every April, the talent of these special people is showcased at the Nursing Times Student Awards which celebrates student nurses and all those who provide the support required to train them.

As part of its commitment to continual professional development, Barchester Healthcare has been helping some of its own staff to become nurses. Barchester has been offering senior care assistants the opportunity to become a nurse through an Open University (OU) degree, which provides those who are already working the ability to study, train and work at the same time.

Peter Crabb, Senior Care Assistant at Barchester’s Westlake Care Home, is in his first year of study, but has been working as a care assistant for over 20 years. “It started when my wife and I went to Canada to work with people living on the streets. Though I had done care work before, helping make a difference to people’s lives made me realise I wanted to do this type of work as my career.” On his return to the UK Peter was employed at Westlake and has never looked back.

Working towards a senior carer role while studying for his NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Health and Social Care, gave Peter a good understanding of what it might be like to undertake a degree while working. “Doing a degree course with the OU means learning to balance study, work and family life. The course includes theory and work placements throughout the year. As my wife and I have three small children and have both studied over the years, we have learned to be very good at juggling everything!”

“My family know that becoming a nurse is what I want to do with my career and have been fully supportive, but it’s the support I’ve received from other areas of my life that has really helped me achieve my goals.

My online tutor group have been really helpful and my Barchester colleagues are superb; they fully support my goal to become a nurse and make sure I see procedures that will help develop my skills further. Whether I am working at the care home or on a placement, my mentor and manager are always available to help answer any questions I have.”

Peter also understands the importance of having a good team around him and how this can make a difference to the residents in his care. “We are there to ensure our residents have the best quality of life. We had one lady who came to the home with very limited mobility. Through the nurses, care assistants and physiotherapists all working together, the lady progressed from being bed ridden to walking around the home, enjoying life.”

“It is an honour to be caring for our residents and to help provide the quality of care they deserve. We can make such a difference to people’s lives.”

Elizabeth Higson, General Manager at Westlake, has known Peter most of his working life, “I always felt Peter had the ability and drive to expand his knowledge and to provide excellent quality care. He is a lovely person and becoming a nurse is the right thing for him to do; it’s clear he’s loving it!”

Peter explains how his first module, though tough, was familiar territory, “We focused on the theory behind care and why we should be offering person-centred care, which is all about ensuring dignity and privacy. These key components are taught by Barchester and are the essence of care. Looking at these principles and all the other things we learn outside of the care home environment is fascinating.”

There have been challenges to studying that Peter hadn’t thought of before the course. “I’m 47, and hadn’t written an essay in a good few years. Academic writing is very different to writing the care plans at work! Luckily there are plenty of online tools to help. As the theory element of the course is online, you have to be very resourceful and dedicated. There is no-one there to drive you on, except yourself. I have started to compartmentalise; I study a lot in the library, so when I’m at home, I can be there to support my wife and children.”

“As challenging as balancing my life and study is, I am proud to be a student nurse; it is helping me reach my full potential.”