‘My best day in nursing’ is the topic for June #NurseBloggers2020 written as part of 2020 The International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
#NurseBloggers2020 June Topic
This blog post was inspired by a recent interview that I did for my Podcast Real Nurse Stories. I interviewed a fantastic Community Nurse Team Leader Amanda, who works in Tameside and Glossip in the North West of England. Amanda is such a positive advocate for community nursing and her story about her journey to become a community nurse is well worth a listen. The interview was like a walk down memory lane for me having worked as a community nurse from 1997 until 2008 in Wythenshawe Manchester in the UK.
Community nursing is not always the first choice for many nurses, graduates usually want to work in ICU, A&E high dependency areas. It is still quite rare to find a nurse who wants to start her career in community nursing post-qualifying.
Community nursing is such a rewarding career in so many ways. Yes, it is a different care environment to acute hospital care; you are invited as a guest into someone’s home to assess the health needs and plan their care. Many of the visits are to older people and the community nurse may be the only person that visits from week to week. It is a real privilege to work in a community visiting people who live there and providing care in a person’s own home.
You see all walks of life and truly meet some wonderful people. You learn to be creative, adapting to difficult home environments to dress someone’s leg ulcers or provide end of life care. You also learn to listen to someone when assessing their health needs. As you listen it is a bit like being a detective the photo’s on the mantlepiece give you clues about a person’s family life, career and tell a story that helps you to understand health beliefs, health challenges, mental health issues for example.
You learn a lot about the impact of social isolation on mental health and things that people wished that they had done before they became unwell. You learn that health promotion and prevention is necessary for everyone you meet whatever their age.
I loved being a community nurse and it still holds a very special place in my heart. The connections and friendships that I made twenty years ago are still maintained despite the fact that many of my colleagues have since retired.
There were many days that were my best days in community nursing. I felt at home, I loved the autonomy, I learnt so much about the community where I worked and the support services that were available. I learnt to work with voluntary and non-government organisations who often supported the gaps where health and social care couldn’t provide a service. I loved the characters that I met and saw health and illness from a different perspective. I know that community nursing is not for everyone but it would be great to see more graduates starting their careers in community nursing. Community nurses are often the unsung heroes preventing unnecessary hospital admissions, providing end of life care so that a loved one can remain at home and so much more.
Listening to the life stories that older people used to tell me was a real privilege and I often used to think about how much we can learn from their wisdom and apply that wisdom to our own lives. Being a community nurse I often reflected on many things from these stories.
This is a poem that I was inspired to write all those years ago in the year 2000 following a bereavement visit to an older man whose wife had recently died. That’s the thing that there are so many patients that still stick in my mind even now. Writing this poem and reflecting on it made me realise that this was one of many of my best days in Nursing.
ListeningYou politely invited me in and clasped my hand
You offered me a drink and then a seat
You’ve taken your coat off that’s a good sign you said.
So I sit and listen as you sit and talk.
You begin the story of your life.
I say nothing but watch and listen.
I see the cine film playing as you recount your life.
I see a young soldier in a vivid blue forces uniform standing tall and proud.
I see your hopes, dreams and aspirations.
I see your future wife standing elegant and tall.
I see the house you chose and then your married life unfold.
Still, I sit and listen as you sit and talk.
You tell me how you could have a conversation without words;
That a look could say more than words ever could.
Now that she has gone, that silence is hard to bear.
I see your hands wring, I see the tears in your eyes.
Still, I sit and listen as you sit and talk.
I see and hear your fears for the future alone.
I see your pain and loneliness.
I see a man proud but struggling to keep control.
I read the regal card congratulating you on sixty years of marriage;
You tell me that you achieved your lifelong ambition to celebrate the millennium together.
I feel very humbled and privileged to have listened to your life.
I stand up to leave; I shake your hand.
I turn and walk down the path thinking as I walk.
Eva Storey 2000
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