LHP Member Company Insights: Margaret Wafer, Clinical & Quality Director Céile Care

“Education and training never end, and you are never too old.“

Margaret Wafer is the Clinical & Quality Director of Céile Care.

Margaret Wafer, Clinical & Quality Director with Céile Care, shares her insights from being a part of LHP Skillnet’s foundation to transitioning from clinical practice to quality improvement in the first of our personal profile interviews. Here, she speaks with Clodagh Killeen, our learning and development project manager, about her passion for care of the older person, her career development and what has helped her on her journey.

Clodagh: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your career has developed to date?

Margaret: I trained as staff nurse in St. Vincent’s University Hospital. Throughout my training I worked in older person care and thoroughly enjoyed this area of nursing and found it very rewarding. A year after I qualified, I returned to UCD and completed my degree in general nursing. After leaving St. Vincent’s Hospital I went to work in long term residential care for older people as a staff nurse. After five months I was promoted to the position of assistant director of nursing and a year later I became the Director of Nursing of a 161 bedded home. I completed a post graduate diploma in Gerontology nursing, followed by the LEO leadership course, a post graduate certificate in infection prevention & control and most recently a postgraduate diploma in healthcare, quality & risk management. Education and training were always very important to me, and I completed many courses in wound care, nutrition, venepuncture, and auditing. After 17 years as Director of Nursing I took up the role of Regional Director where I supported multiple homes. Following this, I was delighted to take up the role of Clinical & Quality Director with Céile Care. This role involves supporting family run and family owner nursing homes to maintain compliance with the regulations and standards and to always promote best practice.

CK: How did you become interested in caring for older people?

MW: From the time I was young I can always remember being raised with a huge respect for older people and it was something that always stayed with me. They are so full of knowledge and fun. I did part of my transition year President’s award in a local nursing home and had great fun and still recall many fond memories of it. From the age of 16 I worked part time in another local nursing home. I believe this experience made my transition to a nurse very easy and it was an area I always remained interested in. My hope is that if we are lucky enough, we will reach our older years and I would hope that we receive the best possible high-quality care.

CK: So, how did you first come involved with LHP Skillnet?

MW: I became involved in LHP Skillnet when it was first established, and I sat on the steering committee at that time. I thought the concept was excellent and I knew how important good quality education and training along with being value for money.

CK: You have sat on LHP Skillnet’s steering group for many years, and you are currently a director of the network in a voluntary capacity, why do you feel it is important for you to be involved and how do you feel LHP Skillnet has developed over this time?

MW: LHP Skillnet is where I would always turn to if I was looking for particular training or sometimes just for advice on the best course to choose and what else is available.

I was always very satisfied with the high standard of training that was delivered and the feedback from staff was always so positive. Even today in my role with Céile Care it is who I turn to when organising or advising homes about training. I have seen LHP Skillnet go from strength to strength and continually strive to improve and deliver the best quality of evidence-based training possible, whilst ensuring value for money.

CK: You did the IPC Postgraduate Diploma during the Covid pandemic, did you find this a difficult undertaking whilst working full time as a Director of Nursing?

MW: This course came from a discussion with Carmel (the Network Manager) about how useful a course like this would be for staff in nursing homes and Carmel took this on board and worked with UCC to make it happen. Before I knew it, I was enrolling on the course. Whilst COVID was extremely challenging, we were very well supported by both LHP Skillnet and UCC to complete this course online. We also made many great networking connections, many whom I am still in touch with today. Going back to study can appear overwhelming but the benefits far outweighed any negative and I have gained great understand and knowledge in relation to IPC which I was able to share in practice.

CK: I know you have a great interest in continuing professional development, and you have done a lot of courses over the years. When you look back at the courses that have really made a personal impact on you, what do you think is the key factor that has made them stand out?

MW: I think training has to be interesting, interactive, and flexible. I have also met many likeminded people on courses over the years who were great supports and assisted me in completing them.

CK: What advice would you give to nurses in the nursing home sector on developing their careers and seeking new opportunities that present?

MW: I would advise everyone to pick a specific topic each year that they concentrate on and become very knowledgeable about, for example the topic that thematic inspections are carried out on. This will help them gain confidence in the subject and also to promote best practice. Education and training never end, and you are never too old to start anything.

CK: You have progressed your career into quality assurance in clinical practice and you are clearly passionate about improving standards of care for older people, how do you think we can move away from training and education being seen as a tick the box measure to ensure compliance to a measure that can provide real impact on the ground and to support a truly sustainable and confident workforce?

MW: I think post training evaluation is vital, if staff are not motivated by what they have learned there is no point in attending it. Education and training need to be varied for example, online, in person, individual and group workshops. I believe you learn better when you have an interest in the topic and staff should be given the opportunity to attend education and training that they enjoy, this will ensure theory becomes practice.