On my first morning in the UK (I still remember the date, 23rd April 2013), I woke up early, got dressed, and had some breakfast. Then I went out to find my way back to the Nursing Home where I had to start working. I had no map, no internet connection, I was walking like a blind person, trying to recall the route I had done the day before in the car. I completely screwed up and I went in the wrong direction! I found a shop and I bought an Oyster card and London Streets from A to Z guide. Still I didn’t knew where I was to be able to find where to go. Crying down the phone, I called Harry and he came to my rescue and took me to work.
Before starting work, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome, so you need to be as prepared as you can for them. My home manager told me I needed to apply for my DBS, fix an appointment for NINO, open a bank account, and do some online training. I managed to do the DBS application electronically without any problems. The administrator Angela booked me for NINO at the Job Centre two days after the phone call.
I was very glad to have my new map. On the day, I went toward central London changing trains and traveling on the underground, and I managed to get there in time. I had a full bag with all my documents organised in a folder very neatly (basically I took all the documents I had so they couldn’t send me back because I missed a document). The officer at the Job Centre was very impressed with my preparedness. I gave him all the documents he asked for, and in 2 weeks I had my NINO.
Then I had to open a bank account. This is trickier than you might think! To open an account, you need at least two documents confirming your current address, for example a NINO letter, a bill, a driving license etc. and then you can arrange an appointment with a bank officer.
I had been in UK for less than a week and I didn’t had all those documents. So I had to wait until I had my letter from Job Centre confirming that I have applied for my NINO, and also a letter from my employer confirming the address where I live. Once I had these I could open my account.
From 23 April until 1st May I went to work each day, completed online training and a couple of shadowing shifts on the floor. On the 1st of May, I had my first shift on the floor alone. I found it hard, as I was scheduled to work only nights and I was not used to it. After finishing my drug round I had to help the only carer I had on duty to change pads, reposition residents and check them hourly to make sure they are safe.
At the beginning, I really didn’t like the work. But I found that when you start getting to know the people you look after and consider that your mum or dad or relative may be in that position of needing help, it doesn’t seem too hard. Finding that human touch in the job is so essential.
I knew I also had big gaps in my knowledge of how things worked in the UK, and because it was the night shift, I had about 30-60 minutes of quiet time available each shift. So I started digging in, looking at the care plans, reading all posters, going over all the folders in the nurse’s station. I was hungry to know more, and I knew that I had to learn by myself because no one was going to hold my hand or show me how to become a great nurse in the UK.
P.S. This story is extracted from my book “Be a great nurse”. To order a copy click here http://www.soslife.co.uk/book/