Nurse of the Year finalist Brían McNamara was shocked when his mother Cora, the Director of Nursing at Greenpark Nursing Home, put him forward for the award.
However, having reached the final three – out of 300 nominated nurses – Brían says he would love to win the award on behalf of the staff at the nursing home.
Brían’s parents, Cora and Brian, established Greenpark Nursing Home in 1991 and Brían has worked there in a variety of roles, from cleaning to caring, since his youth.
When Brian’s father developed Motor Neurone Disease a decade ago, Brían began to take a more active role. And when his father sadly passed away, it was up to Brían to step into his shoes alongside his sister.
“I felt that to really understand what it meant to run a nursing home and how a nursing home works, I really needed to become a nurse,” he recalls.
After working as a care assistant for a time, Brían began studying for a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree in NUI Galway, qualifying in 2011 with first class honours.
“I stayed involved in the nursing home all the time while I was training and any new knowledge I was gaining, I was bringing it back and trying to implement it in the nursing home,” he says, adding that he learned “an awful lot”.
He also had plenty of input into the redevelopment of the home last year, ensuring the new building worked from a care perspective as well as an architectural one.
While Brían enjoyed working in different areas of nursing as part of his general nursing qualification, he says he was always drawn to returning to the nursing home and caring for the elderly.
“I suppose it’s a much more social model of care, where you get to know the person themselves. We’ve a lady here who’s with us 12 years at this stage, so we’ve really become part of her life, whereas you don’t get that experience from working in the hospital.”
While the medical element to care cannot be ignored, working with residents over such a long time also requires an element of friendship to come into the equation. “You have to develop a really close relationship to start to understand them,” says Brían.
For example, noticing that a particular resident might be unusually quiet on a given day might be an indicator that something is wrong and prompt Brían to investigate further.
But, of course, developing friendships with residents can be painful when a resident sadly passes away. “I’ve often gone home and cried my eyes out. You take solace in the fact that you were there and that you were able to do something good for somebody in the last years of their life – and that’s where you draw your strength from.”
One of the cornerstones of Brían’s care ethos is that he makes his routine fit around the individual’s requirements, rather than imposing a regimental routine upon the residents.
People, he says, want to be in their own home, and when they can’t, for whatever reason, it is incumbent upon him to lessen the disruption to their lives. “We respect the person for who they are,” he says.
With the NHI Care Awards just around the corner on 15 November, Brían is “over the moon” at having reached the final three and is grateful to his mother Cora, who showed faith in him by nominating him.
“Obviously, I would love to win the award. Not just for me, for the nursing home here, for everybody here. I’m the name being put up, but it’s a team thing here, we’ve 40 staff here and we’re all working together, I’m just the name at the front of it.”