My Journey : Nichola Harrison

Nichola Ghyll Royd Care Home

This is my journey …

From a young age, I remember my mum putting her uniform on, with an upside-down watch hanging from it and leaving us to go to work. She was such a kind, caring and compassionate woman and wherever she was going I knew she would be making someone else feel special. She was always gone for hours. I missed her so much but the times we had together when she was home were the best. 

Years later when I was 17 and needed “a job” my mum worked in a local nursing home caring for the elderly. Again she wore a uniform with an upside down watch hanging from it. She spoke fondly of the care she gave to people she looked after. I could see the sense of pride she took in giving all she could. 

I was interviewed and I was offered to work as a domestic on the upstairs floor. Soon I realised I didn’t want to just watch others caring for the people who I kept their home clean, I wanted to care for them too and make a difference. I asked if I could change my role. 

In 1998 I started working as a Health Care Assistant. It became clear to me straight away I loved my new vocation in life. This was not just “a job” this was an absolute privilege to care for people who were frail and vulnerable. 

Making a difference. 

Every day was a challenge. There were good days, bad days, funny days, sad days and some days you just have to let go. But as my confidence grew in my new role I knew I could make a difference to the people in my care. I got to know people, got to know their personal needs, and wishes. I needed to do things they wanted to a high standard. This wasn’t something I was taught, this was something I thrived to achieve. 

NVQ LEVEL 2. 

The home introduced new courses for us to enrol on. I was very reluctant to start any courses as in my school years I academically did not do very well. I was encouraged and help offered. I soon completed NVQ LEVEL 2 and soon after enrolled in my NVQ LEVEL 3 and completed this. I always doubted my ability to complete any of these courses and my confidence was knocked from my school years where I failed. I was soon promoted to Senior Health Care Assistant, where I led a team of care staff to deliver high standards of care. In this role I gained lots of values. The need to get things right, aiming to accept challenges and responding to them the best I could. Also realising that not everyone works the same. 

I was soon encouraged by others I should do my nurse training as people thought I would make an excellent nurse! I still lacked the confidence to even imagine I could look up how I just went about enrolling. 

I got in touch with the university and showed my interest. I was informed I would have to get through an interview, a role play, a drug calculation test and an observation test. I was also advised I would need to have a Maths and English GCSE grade C or above. This I did not have. Again I had to enrol on more courses. I went to night school and somehow managed to achieve the grades I needed to enable me to apply for a place at The University of Bradford. 

I got my interview, I sat my tests and I was offered a place at University! I could not believe it. How could I ever do this… I was so excited. 

After working at the nursing home, I started at in 1998 I left in 2008 to start my nurse training. Yes, I worked 10 years as a health care assistant and absolutely loved every minute of it. This role taught me valuable skills that are vital to nursing. 

After 3 years of nurse training and passing everything first time with flying colours I soon became Staff Nurse Harrison (I still now can’t believe I got to that stage!) 

Once I qualified, I started working in the hospital where I trained. I worked in different departments/wards gaining lots of valuable experience. Inside I had that burning desire to do what I used to do when I first started “a job” in 1998. I wanted to care for elderly people and make a difference. 

Back Home

In 2014 I returned to the nursing home where I started working at, at the age of 17 years. It felt right, it felt good, and it felt like home. Been back around people who totally depended on you caring for their every needs is where I wanted to share my newly qualified skills and experiences. 

In 2017 I was promoted to Unit manager (Senior Nurse). I loved my new role, supporting my care team, setting new goals, continuing to learn and develop, but most of all the enjoyment I got from caring for older people and the satisfaction in making a difference to people’s lives was beyond rewarding. 

In 2020 I was promoted to Deputy Manager. This was my opportunity to really excel in my desire to provide, support and aim to achieve excellence. During my first year of my new role as Deputy Manager “the pandemic” hit us and hit us hard. My whole world along with everything and everyone around me changed. It was a challenging time to say the least. With a strong sense of holding it together for the people in my care I pushed on with all I had to give. I wanted to continue to further my development and enrolled in courses and joined in with the new way of learning and communicating through “Zoom”. I wanted to continue to develop my knowledge, I wanted to continue to make people’s lives better. 

It is now March 2022 and after a successful interview for the position of Home Manager I have been appointed this role as my career continues to grow. It’s a very scary and highly responsible position to be in. I would not have managed to get to this level without the support of my team I work with. They are truly amazing. 

My journey so far has been interesting. It’s been tough at times but equally it’s had very rewarding times. Courses I’ve completed, lessons I’ve attended and experiences I’ve been through have taught me a lot about the inner person you have to be to believe you are able to grow and develop. But I can honestly say I would not be the person I am if I wasn’t guided and supported by my mum. She has been my biggest inspiration and shown me the deeper core of care which comes from within. Respecting people as individuals and delivering person centred care. 

I work alongside ‘my mum’ I’m now her boss! She is 72 years young and if you ever get the chance to meet her, you will love her as much as I do. What a woman. I’m so glad I never had to search far for a loving caring and supportive person, I always had it in my mum. ❤️ 

I wanted to share my story to inspire others , if you believe in your dreams and work hard enough you can achieve anything .

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Steph

    This is so lovely to read, for someone who has a very close relative in care it gives peace of mind and is genuinely heartwarming to read how much the job means to those in the role and that it’s not ‘just a job’ the fact that there is genuine ‘care’ in the care roles means alot to families like mine 🥰

  2. Sharon Ayrton

    Congratulations Nichola! You so deserve this. You and your mum are very special people. Thank you for all you do to care with dignity and respect for our elderly people. X

  3. Rachel Meskell

    What a beautiful ‘story’ Nichola. Your caring, supportive nature really shines through. I didn’t realise you work with your Mum?! What an inspiration she has been, as you will be for your children. Thanks for all you do for those in your care – it’s very much appreciated

  4. Hewitt Sue

    What a lovely story Nicholas, your new position is very well deserved. X

  5. Julie Pimlott-Jones

    Congratulations Nichola. I loved reading your story. I remember you as a HCA when I came in to teach about palliative care. You were always keen and asked questions. Look at you now, you’re a true inspiration to young girls.

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