Be a "Masternurse" and survive every shift - 5 tips

11 Sep 2017 8:48 AM
Be a "Masternurse" and survive every shift - 5 tips

Know how to become a "master nurse" and survive every tiring shift with these five helpful tips. Learn more.

Aged Care nurses get sworn at, pinched and grabbed at least once a shift and that’s a good day! It is part of the job but how do you survive those challenging days when it seems every resident/client/buddy is a little cray cray.


  1. Stay calm - Easier said than done that’s for sure. Don’t react or even swear under your breath. Stay professional and cool as a cucumber.
  2. Don’t argue –Remember the person may need a simple assessment on any of the 6 P’s. They may be in pain, need to pee or poo. Is there a need or is it time for pills? Is there any pus i.e any kind of discharge and lastly, especially important for dementia residents, watch your presence – see next point.
  3. Watch your body language and tone of voice. It may the end of your 4th or 5th straight shift and you are tired but your presence still needs to be calm. Approaching any upset resident with open body language and calm manner is vital to surviving the situation. Your tone of voice must stay calm too. Just listening and agreeing with the resident, no matter what the cause, are the main skills needed to survive.
  4. Knowledge is gold.  Knowing the residents mental, emotional and medical status is essential. Having all the correct information will increase your confidence and allow you to step back and assess with more care and less emotion. Too often residents are labelled as “difficult” or “challenging” by nurses who have not even read a care plan nor taken the time to look for the trigger behind a behaviour not just react to the person.
  5. Debrief and breathe after your shiftAfter a shift with many “interesting’ challenges, drive the long way home. Breathe deep all the way. Get take away, chill out in whatever way works for you, play with the kids. Try not to do too much because you may be back the next day. Take the edge off every shift so the stress doesn’t build up like lava in a volcano. If your stress levels stay too high for too long then you will either explode or implode. Either is not good. Self-care in nursing is a skill just like manual handling or infection control. Practice it every shift and you will survive those “ interesting” shifts.