I’m delighted to have recently accepted my first role as a newly qualified nurse, working as a Community Staff Nurse in Leicestershire. I’m even more fortunate to be currently working on my final placement as a student, with the most amazing team of district nurses that I’ve ever met based out in Stetchford. Every day, I drive 30 miles to work and 30 miles back and not one of those days had been a chore. The team have this infectious spirit that I feel truly honoured to be part of, I’m learning every day about the nurse I want to be by the shining example of others. They are exactly what I need right now and life has sent them at just the right time, as I struggle with the stresses that nearing qualification throws at me.
The role of being a nurse at any level in the community is such a privilege. This is where I belong and everything I’ve been looking for. To go into the homes of my patients and be become part of their daily lives and routine is an honour. When I completed placements on wards I was usually very frustrated. I was obsessed with knowing everything about my patients and filled with unanswered questions. Who they were, why they were being admitted for the fourth time this year with acute heart failure? What was going wrong at home? Who was supporting them? How could we help them manage their conditions better? How could we prevent further admissions? The answers were ones that in a secondary care setting, I did not have time, resource or support to gather , never mind resolve. I felt like a tiny little voice shouting at a sea of obstacles. My journey led me to primary care, it was meant to all along I guess.
Now that I am here it is my role to empower, support and educate my patients to live the best lives that they can (whilst simultaneously dressing their wounds). In one of my first lectures, when presented with a model of holism, I frantically highlighted the word…”remember this!!!” I scribbled next to it. I was being filled with so many new words, concepts and models that I was worried I would forget. Well I never forgot. Every case study, Betty, Bill and Doris, Martha, Mary. I have remembered to understand who they were and is some cases, how they were failed as patients. And now I get to meet them in person. I get my own group of real living people to support. I feel like I’ve won the lottery.
As a community nurse, the bonds and trust that we build with our patients are vital to the success of their care. We are invited into their homes and for many become the only human contact that they have. We are not only their nurses, we are the people that they confide in, share problems and fears with and the smile that they come to rely on. And because of this we are in a prime position to empower shared decision making, encourage healthy choices and educate our patients to live well with their health issues and long term conditions. At times we help our patients make choices about their deteriorating health and what their preferences when we care for them at the end of their lives may be.
End of life care is a big part of this role. In my first year as a student EOL care was filled with frightening words such as syringe drivers and cheyne stoking..literally petrifying, because the consequences of saying or doing something wrong is unbearable to consider. I have found that this is now one of my strengths. Remember the word…Holism..the whole person. Well now they’ve become a whole family. The patient, their loved ones, their pets. Each have a very specific set of needs and the biggest one is simply compassion. These families are going through loss that can not be imagined. But with the right questions, support and kindness from us as nurses, they get through the most challenging days of life and death. Days that can be filled with smiles and even laughter.
My new love and admiration of these people, these nurses and these communities has led me to think a great deal about the very word community. We are living through very difficult political times as nurses, as people and as a nation. The current climate moves from apathy to anger and immense sadness with each news story. People feel helpless. But we are not. We must start looking at the world with new perspective. We are not living in a world filled with terror, we are living in a world capable of great love, compassion and kindness that experiences terror attacks. We are not controlled by the elected politicians , they are simply a group of people that govern our country. WE make the decisions about how WE shape our communities. WE decide how we relate to each other as human beings. WE decide the impact that WE want to make in the world.
As nurses, individuals and people we are not just parts of the communities we serves and live within. We make many little sub communities and connections. I myself have found inspiration within my online community and twitter family. At a time when I lacked inspiration in my immediate circle, I found the people I wanted to communicate with and allow to influence my practice. I’ve made good friends and networks. We do this naturally as human beings, it is how community on a wider scope is built, by seeking out pockets of like minded people that benefit us.
After Brexit I made a decision to limit my media access for a short time. I decided that the only thing that any of us can do is work on what is in front of us. I’ve questioned this decision many a time, it could be argued that I am being ignorant to the bigger picture. However, I would counter argue that by focusing on what I can do, with what I do have, to what is in front of me, I am making the biggest difference that I can. Maybe if we refocus collectively in this way, we could change our world. The one that we see when we look out of the window. By considering the words we allow to leave our mouths and what we articulate in written form, I’m pretty confident that we could change not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. Because the way I see it is this, right now we have a few options. One of them is to be consumed with fear by our current climate and circumstances, or we can choose to function on a level above it. And that is my choice, and guess what…its working well for me. I don’t have the power to change the world, I DO have the power to change how I respond to it and not to let the world change me as a person.
So I am bounding towards being a newly qualified nurse with a gratitude and positivity AND a very special tool kit : Perspective, compassion and kindness…oh and dressing packs..tons and tons of dressing packs!
Thank you for reading
Love and Light