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‘The residents have made me into the nurse I am today’

Tara Spencer, home manager of Church Farm at Skylarks Nursing Home in Nottingham, spoke to Nursing Times about her passion for dementia care

How would you describe your role to someone you’ve just met?

“I am a registered mental health nurse and home manager of a specialist dementia nursing home, Church Farm at Skylarks. I’m responsible for the running of the home and guiding my colleagues to provide the highest standard of care to the family members (residents) living with us.”

What does your typical working day look like?

“No two days are ever the same. I believe that being responsive to our family members, their external support circle and staff needs are a vital part of my role. I must be able to lead and guide the team while remaining calm, enthusiastic and dedicated. Every day brings a new set of challenges, which presents an opportunity to learn and grow.”

What made you want to become a nurse?

“Growing up I really wanted to make a difference to help people and change lives. I now feel it was something I was born to do and I love putting a smile on people’s faces through outstanding care.”

What attracted you to your current role?

“I am very passionate about dementia care and I wanted to work for an organisation where ‘people matter’. My positivity and enthusiasm are supported and encouraged. I wanted to continue to work for an organisation that values people. For a number of years I have worked for Church Farm Care, during which time I have used my voice to lead a team and deliver the highest level of care. I wanted to become part of an organisation that set the standard of excellence in dementia care and I feel Church Farm Care does this.”

Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

“That is a difficult one. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most dedicated, carers, doctors, and nurses during my career, who all have played a part in my development. I would have to say each and every one of the residents I have worked with has made me into the nurse I am today.”

What do you enjoy most about your role?

“Getting to form relationships with all of my family members and their relations is one of my favourite parts of the role. I feel privileged and humbled to be such a big part in their lives.”

What’s been the stand-out moment in your career so far?

“I joined Church Farm Care in 2019 and started as a night nurse. After a short break to support the NHS during the pandemic I returned and
was promoted to deputy home manager, then home manager in late 2022. Although it was a big responsibility, it was a stand-out moment for me, which provided a sense of achievement. Being able to undertake this role within a specialist dementia environment was a dream.”

What are your ambitions for the future?

“I would like to progress my career further and complete a degree in dementia studies. Eventually, I’d like to become a head of dementia care.”

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

“Do it! Use your voice, care and compassion to change people’s lives.”

Career file

Name: Tara Spencer

Job title: Home manager

Employer: Church Farm at Skylarks Nursing Home

Main responsibilities: Responsible for the safe and effective running of a specialist dementia nursing home

Salary (or range/band): 8B equivalent

Average hours worked: 40 hours, plus on call

Career history: Deputy manager, Church Farm at Skylarks (2021-22); specialist mental health nurse, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2020-21); staff nurse, Church Farm at Skylarks (2019-20); staff nurse, Nightingale Care Home (2017-19)

Qualifications: Advanced diploma, mental health nursing; registered mental health nurse

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