Balhousie Care Group marks International Nurses Day

Mairead O’Connor, a lead nurse at ASC, Balhousie Care Group’s specialist care facility

To honour the work of nurses the world over, International Nurses Day is celebrated every year on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. To mark this special day, three nurses from Balhousie Care Group, all at different stages of the careers, talk about what attracted them to a career in nursing.

“I wanted to work with people, so I pursued nursing.”

As one of Scotland’s top nurse consultants, Lindsay Dingwall joined Balhousie Care Group earlier this year in the new role of Clinical Care Quality Manager.

A post-graduate of the University of Dundee, Lindsay was drawn to working with older people from the start of her nursing career.

“I started a BSc course in 1976 that had a hard science and computer programming basis and found it difficult to imagine what I would do as a career that would excite me,” says Lindsay. “I wanted to work with people and so I pursued nursing. No one among my family or friends was a nurse and I had no idea what to expect.”

With a career spanning over 40 years in nursing, Lindsay is now supporting the team across Balhousie Care Group to provide the highest quality care possible as well as supporting the education and development of staff. For anyone considering a nursing career working with the elderly, Lindsay offers wise advice.

“Nursing older people provides opportunities for career development across all sectors, primary or secondary care and in the private sector. Any newly qualified nurse caring for older people should be prepared for a rapid learning curve and to never stop learning.”


“For a nurse there is so much more opportunity for progression”

Mairead O’Connor, a lead nurse at ASC, Balhousie Care Group’s specialist care facility, learned from an early age to socialise with people with learning disabilities just like she would anyone else. Her mother was a learning disabilities nurse so she grew up accustomed to having her mum’s patients stop by and play.

“I grew up with that and so I wanted to do that too.” Following a nursing degree at Napier University in Edinburgh, Mairead worked in the NHS then joined ASC.

“There’s a huge emphasis on activities here at ASC and everything is person-centred, meaning we cater to individuals’ needs, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Mairead of the Balbeggie based facility, which provides residential care for adults with learning disabilities, histories of mental health issues, and challenged behaviours.

Mairead is a firm advocate of the private health model when it comes to treating adults with special care needs. “I feel like elsewhere there’s a structure and you have to work around it. Here, the structure works around the service users.”

Mairead’s job as lead nurse at ASC involves developing and following care plans for service users, working with local authorities and other agencies to ensure that individuals’ needs are being supported, and making sure the right environmental support is there for residents.

What sort of person is it suited for? “It’s a huge job,” she says. “It’s for people who really care and are dedicated. It’s for people who are willing to treat this as more than just a job, but as a career, as a vocation.”

Debbie O’Reilly with a resident.

Care home nursing ticked all the boxes for single mum, Debbie

When Debbie O’Reilly started working for Balhousie Care Group, it was for the love of nursing in a care home environment.

Eight years later, she still wouldn’t swap it for a hospital or doctor’s surgery setting. And now that she’s a single mum, Debbie finds it suits her lifestyle perfectly. Debbie splits care of her son with his dad. On the days and weeks she is being mum, she arranges her work hours as a clinical lead to suit. When his dad is taking care of him, she picks up extra shifts.  

“There’s always something to keep me motivated, and every day I’m learning new things,” says Debbie, Clinical Lead at Balhousie Moyness care home in Dundee. “But it also gives me the flexibility I need as a single working mum.”


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