Among the participants at the one-day conference were more than 70 RGNs representing all 20 homes run by the family-owned group.
Held at the AFC Bournemouth football stadium, the event was designed to encourage nurses to develop their leadership skills while reaffirming the company’s commitment to invest in nursing despite recruitment challenges facing the whole care sector.
Elaine Farrer, Colten Care Operations Director, said: “This was the first dedicated nurses’ conference of its size we’ve ever held. We wanted our nurses to understand our appreciation for the significant professional role they have in the care of our residents. The event was a great way for us to demonstrate in one place at one time that we will continue to support our nurses in their careers and enable them to develop as leaders.”
The keynote presentation even drew parallels between some of the leadership challenges of nursing and the kinds of decisions inherent in ocean sailing and polar exploration.
Speaker and ex-Royal Navy officer Manley Hopkinson was a skipper on the 2000 BT Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race, leading a crew of volunteers, including novices, for nine months on a 32,000-mile journey ‘the wrong way round the globe’. He was also part of the three-man team that won the inaugural race to the Magnetic North Pole, facing polar bear attacks and continual sub-zero temperatures.
Focusing on leadership and how to get the best out of teams, Manley gave his thoughts on what it feels like to be ‘in the eye of the hurricane’ and how best to respond. He stressed the importance of focusing on outcomes and ‘doing the job you should be doing rather than the job you can do’.
Presentations from clinical experts covered subjects such as revalidation and how Colten supports nurse learning and development.
Guest speaker Carmel Gordon, a Critical Care Sister and RCN-accredited trainer, got participants comparing their skills in identifying the early signs of infection. Her message was that improved ‘early warning skills’ in care homes can help to avoid acute hospital admissions.
Alongside the conference, there was a trade show that enabled attendees to find out what is new on the equipment side to help in their work.
Janie Pearman, Home Manager at Belmore Lodge in Lymington, Hampshire, and a former casualty nursing sister, said: “It was a great idea for nurses to get together. The day was both informative and inspiring and we came away buzzing with ideas. I cannot believe what a morale boost this has been to our nursing team.”
Colten Care Quality Manager Jo Croft, also an RGN, said: “Going through the feedback, it’s clear the registered nurses who attended the event found it exciting and inspiring. Many said it helped them feel valued in their role.”
Elaine Farrer added: “The presentations were professional and focused. People really enjoyed the chance to network with colleagues from across all our homes. Our message is that we want to give all our nurses the opportunity to be the best they can be. If we perform at our best, we can make a huge positive difference for our residents and ensure they have the best experience too while living in a Colten Care home.”