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Spotlight on Gary Cousins

Gary Cousins is a Resident Experience Care Specialist Nurse

I started as a Care Assistant in Four Seasons Health Care in 2002 and went on to attend the University of Stirling to study Nursing. After an initial post-reg period working in a local hospital, in 2010 I took up my first RN post in FSHC as a Charge Nurse before holding Clinical Lead, along with acting Deputy Manager and Acting Home Manager posts within intermediate care.

In 2012 I took up a new position in Four Seasons, Infection Control & Clinical development Nurse, the first of its kind within the company. I started from scratch, developing the role, devising & implementing educational programmes and support systems to empower staff and facilitate greater ownership of day to day practice.

The link programme I developed evolved, with attendees from nursing and care staff to housekeeping/domestic staff along with those in the Regional Support Team. The IPC link programme within Four Seasons earned recognition at the Nursing Times Awards 2014 earning the runner up spot in the IPC category. In 2015 a link nurse in NI won the Nursing Standard IPC Link Person award, proving that embedding theory knowledge into day to day practice can have an extremely positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the people we are charged with caring for.

Over 2014-15 I obtained a PgCert in Infection Prevention, it was hard work but well worth it. I was able to engage with others working in IPC across the UK & Ireland.

Although my title has changed, the ethos of what I do hasn’t. Staff still require support and education, monitoring & review of best practice is required, surveillance (I like Datix for this) of infections to enable proactivity is essential. A combination of all these will provide more positive resident experiences for those living in Care Homes. As part of this work I was fortunate to be awarded BJN Infection Prevention Nurse 2016.

In 2016-17, my main goal has been to work towards a Seasonal Influenza (flu) programme that will increase awareness and improve vaccine uptake across staff and resident groups. I get my flu vaccine every year but I know there a many in FSHC who do not. There is so much negativity in the media and myths about the vaccine that people believe but are not true. With the help of the very kind marketing team we produced a flu information leaflet and poster.

Date published: 15 September 2017

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