Joanne Stokes – Maria Mallaband Care Group Limited – Social Care

How it started, how did you get into being a TNA/NA?

My story is nothing out of the ordinary, I have worked all my adult life within social care (since the age of 15 actually) in 1986 health care wasn’t as personalised as it is now, no person-centred care and at times very institutionalised for those who live in within care. I have previous experience of working in both social care and the NHS. I have experience in emergency medicine, spinal trauma, and elderly health. I am presently working with Maria Mallaband care group (MMCG) which has 80 care homes nationwide. I have been with them for ten years this year. They have given me many opportunities including the TNA programme. My learning a development lead approached me regarding this programme.  I bit their arm off when they offered it to me! An amazing opportunity I never though possible. I have worked hard to get where I am today and have been helped enormously by MMCG.

What do you do as a TNA/NA?

As a qualified Nursing Associate, I am answerable to the NMC. I have a professional responsibility to the residents I look after. I use my newfound knowledge and clinical skills to administer prescribed treatment and assist with all their daily aspects of living. I promote independence and encourage engagement and participation. I liaise with other health care professionals and refer to outside agencies for advice and instructions to provide holistic and personalised care for aspects of their lives. I take responsibility for a shift, and I am able allocate staff accordingly and make sure all staff I work with remain competent in all aspects of the care they provide to the residents. Ultimately the responsibility is mine for all oversight of safety and continued action for 24 hours care

What are the benefits of having a TNA/NA to the organisation you work for, the team you work in and the patients?

MMCG has qualified Nursing Associates within the already growing team. We are the first NAs and we are still finding our feet. As we continue to grow and establish ourselves it is an exciting opportunity for us to explain to other staff members how they are able to progress and use new skills and new ways of learning. I am eager to spread the word and make sure that others are aware of how we can assist in making the Nursing Associate a role of its own and recognised by everyone. We are able to give the Registered General Nurses (RGN) time to prioritise urgent clinical tasks and treatments as well as complete some clinical tasks ourselves with the RGNs oversight. We have a greater understanding of medications and how it effects our bodies and its systems. I can assist families to understand the need for their loved ones prescribed medicines, in some cases make for better diagnosis.

Tell us about the experience you are undertaking to move from being an NA to a registered nurse.

I originally started the TNA programme to experience a new way of learning for myself. To prove to myself I could still work academically and to show my family I could do this. The first year was very very different from the second. I struggled the first 12 weeks and I even considered giving it up, I felt stupid and overwhelmed. I eventually opened up to my tutor and honestly never looked back. I loved every new lesson and became excited for each new module and couldn’t wait to see what the learning outcomes would be, I kept in front with my studies and googled the life out of all the topics!! I can honestly say I really enjoyed the exams and I actually miss all the studying. This is why I am now moving forward and going back to uni to begin my top up on March 1st, 2022, to begin another journey to become a Registered General Nurse. Something I never thought possible. I did not come away from school with the qualifications I needed to start the RGN in my late teens. I didn’t really try at college and met my husband straight after school and ended up traveling around the world with him and our five children whilst he climbed his ladder in the army. These past years has been my time to climb that ladder. My time to be that Nurse I have always wanted to be

What are the challenges you face?

I face challenges within my work every single day. Not all of my own choice. Sometimes other RGNs are not sure what I am legally able to complete within my role. I have to educate them and gain their trust. There are others who are grateful for my assistance, and this makes everyone else see what can be done with another health care professional on the team who is able to use their skills for the benefit of the residents and the staff. As I am still new to my role I am learning too. it’s incredible to think that I used to watch Nurses performing some tasks wishing I could do the same, and now I can. The biggest hurdle is peoples’ perception and understanding of the NA role, but I put them at ease and explain with a smile.

My advice, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a TNA/NA?

My advice to anyone considering undertaking the TNA programme is GO FOR IT!! I was recently asked about it and gave those very words as encouragement. Moreover I’d say, stay ahead of the game. When you receive the title of your next module google everything about it and ask any nurse/ manager/ GP/DN (the list is endless) about it. Ask other NAs and make yourself familiar with the learning outcomes. Most of all enjoy it. Take time for yourself and make sure you ask for help if you are struggling. You are not alone and there is help available to you. It is so worth it to look back and say to yourself “I’ve done it!”