Just as WHO declares that the Covid global health emergency is over, we’re celebrating the nurses who have seen us through one of the most difficult times in the history of the NHS and welcoming the nurses of the future.
Liz Alderton, retiring this month after 43 years of service.
Queen’s Nurse, BEM and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother’s award of outstanding service.
How I became a nurse
The 12th of May marks the day I started my training 43 years ago. I became a nurse because I was desperate to leave home and to live in London. Luckily, I loved nursing from the beginning (and loved the lifestyle of living in central London too!)
I enjoyed all my training but especially the community nursing placement, which inspired me to work in the community. I have worked in the community for 38 years and have held the District Nurse specialist practitioner qualification for 35.
I started working for NELFT 38 years ago, before it was even called that.
During the pandemic
Throughout the pandemic, the work of district nurses carried on as usual, providing face to face contact with patients. We tried to prioritise essential care but there was a marked increase in patients at end of life, whom we nursed at home and of course a big decline in other services providing care.
We felt very alone and vulnerable but also that the role of community services went unnoticed. Even though in our team, we were well supported by redeployed staff, it was still a stressful time.
That’s why it’s important to acknowledge community services and the contribution of district nurses during these difficult times when patients were unable to see GPs or many specialist services and had hospital appointments cancelled.
The most rewarding part of my role
The patients. It is a privilege to be allowed into their homes to provide care and to know that I make a difference on a daily basis.
I am also blessed with an outstanding team at Harold Hill Health Centre who are committed, compassionate, hard-working and a joy to work with.
The role of nurses today
The role of community nursing has changed a lot in the 4 decades I’ve been a nurse. We are much more highly qualified practitioners, working autonomously to manage and care for people with a range of very complex needs, often with multiple co-morbidities.
How I’ll spend my retirement
I’m mountain running in Scotland, wild swimming in Crete and I will be running a marathon in Istanbul as well as site seeing.
I also sing in a choir, play the piano and enjoy a variety of crafts and reading and will also be joining the local tennis club and have plans to learn Italian and maybe go to an upholstery class.
Leanne Martin, student nurse and finalist of Nursing Times Associate Trainee of the Year Award.
Leanne decided to embark on a career in the healthcare industry, to help her overcome health anxiety. With the support of the NELFT Patient Safety Lead, Lucy Millar, she has showcased a delirqium pilot from Greater Manchester to the patient safety forum, which has since been adopted within her team.
I had health anxiety for quite some time and thought if I understood healthcare, then maybe it would reduce the symptoms. I started working at a care home and I became increasingly interested in the ‘why’ around health conditions.
When I found out about the promising career opportunities at NELFT I joined as a healthcare assistant 5 years ago and managed to progress quickly into nursing.
I had an extremely supportive manager throughout the whole process of applying for a nursing apprenticeship.
The most rewarding part of my role
I enjoy being part of a team that prevents unnecessary hospital admissions and this stems from personal experience.
Before my grandmother died, she was constantly in and out of hospital and this didn’t help her health. Now through my work, I’m able to problem solve to help patients avoid going into hospital.
The most rewarding part of my role is when I can keep someone safe at home.
The small things that can make a real difference
A colleague and I were called to help a patient with mobility problems in their home. We washed and changed the patient and made sure they were comfortable in bed and finally able to watch their favourite show on TV. Seeing the difference that made to them was absolutely wonderful.
I want to become a registered nurse and leave a legacy. I believe that’s the purpose of life, to make the world better.
If you are interested in starting your healthcare career journey, visit our careers website to find out the various routes into NELFT – www.careers.nelft.nhs.uk.