District Nursing in the midst of a pandemic
Reanne White, Specialist Practitioner District Nurse, shares her experience of nursing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
'District Nursing' and 'Global Pandemic' were never phrases I thought I'd be saying in the same sentence at the start of 2020. Although pandemics are not something new for District Nurses to deal with, back in the early 1900s the Influenza Outbreak devastated lives and millions died. Yet not many people realise that District Nurses were around at this time, way before the birth of the NHS.
The last 6 months of working as a District Nurse during this global pandemic are arguably the most challenging time of not just my career but of our lives.
I have seen firsthand what Coronavirus can do to a person physically and mentally. I have witnessed the kindness of strangers who have thanked me for working every day during lockdown. I have supported the dying person who had only little family with them at the end, who had been overcome by this virus and taken too soon. I have seen how the human body can overcome the hardest of battles, placed on ventilation in intensive care to then suddenly find themselves back home with physical and mental scars of this shocking virus. I have witnessed the devastation of families losing loved ones they have not been able to see for months. I have been the brunt of all the frustrations patients and families have, as fear grips and takes over. I have sat and broken the news to relatives that their loved one has hours left to live whilst wearing full personal protective equipment.
I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of staff who despite knowing the risks to themselves and loved ones, carried on and delivered complex care in patients' homes.
I have seen a District Nursing service put under the most extreme pressures and unprecedented demands for the service to be overlooked by the media. I have seen during the first wave rapid discharges from the hospitals into community making way for acutely unwell people with the virus. I have seen the burn out in District Nurses as they battle every day the increasing demands of the service and untold pressures brought to tears. I have also seen these same nurses do the most wonderful compassionate care you could ever wish a nurse to have. I have seen District Nurses rising to every challenge they are faced with and continue to support each other to keep going.
I have never felt so much pride in being a District Nurse as I do at this time.
I have been overwhelmed at the sheer courage and strength of my District Nursing Colleagues, who continue to deliver highly complex care in people's homes! It was always said District Nurses carry on silently 24hrs a day in all weathers; we can now add 'Global Pandemics' to this!
"This year has been a tough one, and although the Year of the Nurse and Midwife didn't quite go as planned there couldn't be a more fitting celebration of the role nurses and healthcare professionals have played during this time. We can't thank you enough for your continued strength, bravery and delivery of ongoing care. From all at L&R - thank you."
Simon Mangan, Managing Director, Lohmann & Rauscher Medical UK LTD.
Blog written by Reanne White, Specialist Practitioner District Nurse.
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Whether you're going through a tough time, or know a nursing colleague that is, Cavell Nurses Trust offer support to UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, both working and retired, who may be suffering from personal or financial hardship often due to illness, disability, older age, domestic abuse and the impact of the coronavirus.
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