What does a Consultus live-in nurse do

15/11/18

What does a live-in nurse actually do? What is the difference between a nurse and a carer? We are often asked these questions. In this article, Consultus Nurse, Julie Howard, clarifies the role of a live-in nurse and explains why it’s the perfect job for her.

Journey to live-in nursing

I qualified as a registered nurse in 1982, having completed my training at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. Since then, I have worked on surgical and oncology wards before moving to community nursing. There I enjoyed the challenge of being a practice educator, supporting district nurse training as well as teaching cancer and end of life nursing. I have been a live-in nurse with Consultus since 2011 and I love it!

A typical day doesn’t exist

Live-in nurses have to be flexible; there’s no such thing as a typical day! Each job is different and is determined by the client and their needs. I always pop my head in on my client first thing in the morning to see how they are feeling. After that I might help them take their medication, or disconnect an overnight feed. I may change their dressings or do some rehabilitation with them. I can also assist them with personal care, prepare their meals and do light housework. It really depends on the client and their needs. One of the advantages of being a live-in nurse is that there is no set schedule to stick to, so we can take the day at the client’s pace.

Adjusting to being a live-in nurse

Being a live-in nurse is very different to working in a hospital or nursing home. Consultus nurses work a two-week placement, from 8am-8pm, with a two-hour covered break. We are then available for night calls each night. If these become too frequent, night care is put in place. Sometimes, if we are able, we may stay on longer to care for a patient who is approaching the end of their life because we’ve built up a close working relationship with the client and their family.

As a live-in nurse you are on your own with the patient the majority of the time. Relatives and other healthcare professionals such as carers, doctors, occupational therapists and community nurses may call in on occasion though, so it is important to establish good relationships with them to make the most of their visits. All of the Consultus carers that I have worked with have been lovely and are fantastic at what they do. It is wonderful to have the extra support, especially with clients who wake multiple times in the night, or to cover each other’s breaks.

I love being a live-in nurse, although it can be emotionally and physically demanding at times, especially when a client is palliative. It is very important to remember to look after yourself, so that you can give your best to the client and their family. Even if it’s just having a quick cup of tea or a short walk around the block, take some time to recharge and look after you. Take up a hobby or make sure that you have a good book so that you can do something enjoyable and relaxing in your break. Additionally, the Consultus Nursing team are a brilliant support network. It is very reassuring to know that there is a Consultus Nurse Consultant on call 24-hours a day, just in case.

“I love being a live-in nurse!”

As I’m now semi-retired, the flexible nature of live-in nursing makes it the perfect job for me. It allows me to do the work I love whilst still enjoying a great work-life balance. I work roughly eighteen weeks a year and spend the remainder travelling the world and visiting my friends and family. I really appreciate that the Consultus Nursing team is so flexible and will work closely with you to arrange bookings that suit your schedule.

Another advantage of live-in nursing is that you have the time to give your clients your complete attention and deliver the highest standard of care – I remember the stress of trying to meet the needs of multiple patients at once and the effect that had on my morale. I have definitely seen the benefits for everyone that come from the one-to-one approach. I have a special interest in palliative care and get tremendous satisfaction from doing this well. I put into practise all those skills I have built up over the years to make this time very special for all concerned. I also enjoy the challenges of acute rehabilitation and have been able to help many of my clients regain their independence following fractures, surgical procedures and various other ailments. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to make such a positive difference to your client’s quality of life.

Nursing someone in their own home allows you to really get to know them and their family, which is very special. From the photos on the walls to hearing stories from the client, their friends and family, it all comes together to paint the life of a very dynamic person. You learn about the person they have been, and how they are now and that enhances the experience for everyone. I have worked for some incredible clients, with fascinating life stories which I have felt privileged to be part of. Live-in nursing is an incredibly rewarding career, and I really love what I do.

For a confidential discussion about our live-in nursing service, phone 01732 770403 or email  nursing@consultuscare.com. Alternatively, visit www.consultuscare.com/live-in-nursing to find out more.

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