A tribute to all those hard-working nurses in Norfolk and Suffolk

Norfolk nurses as part of International Nurses Day

To mark International Nurses Day, those working in the profession around Norfolk and Waveney share why they love their job. - Credit: NNUH/NSFT/QEH/JPUH

Tributes are paid today to the thousands of nurses in Norfolk and Waveney caring for patients across the region.

May 12 marks International Nurses Day and a time to recognise the efforts of nursing staff working across the NHS and health sector to treat patients. 

To mark the day, nursing staff have shared an insight into their roles and the challenges faced in the last 12 months and going forward.

Alexandra Parvin, senior sister, Cromer Hospital 

Alexandra Parvin, senior sister at Cromer Hospital.

Alexandra Parvin, senior sister at Cromer Hospital. - Credit: NNUH

As a teenager the senior sister helped her grandmother with Parkinson's, which would lead to the start of a 20 year career and face the pandemic with a "determined and positive attitude".

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She said: "I was able to help her feel less afraid and my grandfather feel less alone by doing very simple things. I wanted to do that for others too. No matter what area of nursing I am working in or location I feel pride is being able to help others cope, feel less afraid, get through treatment,  support their loved ones, survive...the list is endless.

"You get out of nursing what you put in, like anything in life. It's not always easy, in fact you might have some of the hardest  days of your life but you will have some of the best days and moments too. For example nothing beats the feeling of when one of your patients having cancer treatment get their final scan results and they get the all clear. It's the best feeling in the world."

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Sian Taylor, registered nurse, critical care complex at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Sian Taylor Registered Nurse, Critical Care Complex 

Sian Taylor Registered Nurse, Critical Care Complex - Credit: NNUH

The registered nurse entered the profession after the compassionate care her father received during the end of his life.

She has since undertaken a Master of Science degree and been appointed a peer reviewer for an international palliative care journal.

She said there were many skills nurses require and was not a job you can "just do". 

The registered nurse said: "I love that nursing has not only given me the chance to care for patients and their relatives, but has provided me with the opportunity to be a listener, an advocate, an educator, and a mentor. 

"In my honest opinion, nursing is not something that you can just do. The skills required to be a nurse, such as care, compassion, empathy, organisation, emotional intelligence, being adaptable to change, using initiative, and effective communication skills, and a sense of humour, are things that a person may possess, but would need to develop an understanding of how to use these appropriately when caring for a patient, and their relatives, and working as part of a multidisciplinary team."

Anna Green, Norfolk and Waveney Children's, Families and Young People's mental health team

Anna Green, works at NSFT

Anna Green, Norfolk and Waveney Children's, Families and Young People's mental health team - Credit: NSFT

Miss Green qualified as a mental health nurse last September after starting at the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust during the pandemic.

The 23-year-old started as an assistant practitioner to help during the pandemic before fully qualifying in September.

The former UEA student chose a career in mental health nursing after studying psychology and family members work as physical health nurses.

She works with young people aged between 14 and 25 with a variety of different conditions at Stephen's. 

She said: "Working with young people is a privilege as it puts you in a position to help them get their future back.

"It is also really rewarding to work alongside families and give them the support they need to help the young person.

“I really enjoy my job although it is challenging at times, especially as I had to finish my final assignment while working full time in the assistant practitioner role. But working during lockdown has been good as it has given me routine and encouraged me to think about different ways of working and how to make adjustments for people who are unable to come into the building."

Mike Albert, Queen Elizabeth Hospital's deteriorating patient project lead

QEH nurse Mike Albert

Mike Albert, Deteriorating patient project lead at QEH - Credit: QEH

Mr Albert has been working at the hospital for 15 years after joining the trust in 2006 and is in charge of recognising deteriorating patients and feeding that into training, policies and face to face with patients.

As only one of two men in his class, he said the stigma around male nurses has almost gone in 2021. 

He added: "The entire profession has evolved hugely.

"There's no longer that separation between what a doctor does and what a nurse does. They are two different professions but very different roles but there is a definite overlap between the two. You are more of a side by side team rather than a hierarchy anymore."

His role changed nearly overnight when he was required to shield, a role he usually did face to face with the hospital's sickest patients.

He said: "It was very much still deteriorating patients but rather than physically seeing patients I was working from home, writing policies and procedures on dealing with Covid patients.

"Each policy or procedure or teaching session you do has a huge impact on our patients."

Lauren Jacques,  deputy sister, in the NNUH critical care complex

Lauren Jacques,  deputy sister, in the NNUH critical care complex

Lauren Jacques, deputy sister, in the NNUH critical care complex - Credit: NNUH

The deputy sister shared a powerful video diary of life working during the pandemic and said she was glad to have answered the calling. 

Miss Jacques, from Cringleford, said: "Nursing is my life, my passion. Through all the highs and lows, the triumphs and the sorrows in nursing, I know that at the end of a shift in Critical Care I have made a difference to someone’s life."

During the pandemic, she said the saddest part was seeing patients without their loved ones.

She said: "They said goodbye at the door, and they may or may not have seen each other again. As nurses we treated these patients as if they were our sister, brother, mother, father, or significant other. We were with the patient during intubation, proning, procedures and even when death was inevitable. We celebrated the wins and cried with the losses.

"It takes courage to become a nurse. It’s filled with highs and ultimate lows, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. But always remember a patient may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel." 

Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust Out of Hours team

The out of hours community nursing team aim to prevent patients from needing hospital admissions.

The out of hours community nursing team aim to prevent patients from needing hospital admissions. - Credit: NCH&C

The team's manager and service lead Kirstie Sainsbury-Logan and Tracey Bensley spoke of the diverse role the team play working across Norfolk overnight.

The team responds to anywhere between 50 to 90 patients overnight with the aim to prevent patients from needing admission to hospital. 

During the pandemic, the team became an acceleration site with targets to reach patients within two hours instead of four.

The team also cared for a high number of poorly and palliative Covid-19 patients.

Mrs Sainsbury-Logan, a Queen's nurse with 22-years experience, said: "I call it extreme district nursing on nights because everything is really clinical. It can be a very quick visit or you could walk into something serious.

"With the community nursing, a lot of nurses prefer this type of nursing because it is very patient centred and 1 to 1.

"New nurses need to look at the community as a career rather than staying in acute and I think it is pushed from nursing schools you must stay in the acute."

Mrs Bensley added: "Keeping people at home in their preferred place of care, even down to preferred place of death, getting a patient out of hospital quicker and home. That’s my focus of work."

Kevin Barnard - Specialist nurse with the JPUH's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) team 

James Paget specialist nurse Kevin Barnard

Kevin Barnard, Specialist nurse with the JPUH's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) team - Credit: JPUH

The 49-year-old from Lowestoft is part of a three man team looking after patients aged five to 17 with the condition.

Face to face clinics were put on hold and Mr Barnard and the team conducted more 100 socially distanced door step visits to check on families from Martham to Southwold. 

As part of the visits, the team dropped off activity packs, put together thanks to donations from local organisations including the YMCA in Lowestoft, Wilkinsons and other contributions via the Helping James Paget Hospital Facebook page.

Mr Barnard, who has been a nurse for more than 25 years, said: "It was a time when we really needed to reach out to our most vulnerable young patients.

“For some of the patients and their families, being cooped up at home could have been particularly tough, especially if they didn’t have a garden.

“It was a very worrying time but the families we visited were so appreciative – and pleased that we were thinking of them.”

Morag Wells - retired nurse

Morag Wells, a retired nurse, continued working at the James Paget. 

Morag Wells, a retired nurse, continued working at the James Paget. - Credit: JPUH

The JPUH nurse was due to retire last August after 35 years but after caring for Covid patients and catching the disease she decided she wanted to continue working at the trust. 

The 60-year-old, from Lowestoft, has worked as part of the trust's vaccination team for adults and special accessible clinic. 

Mrs Wells, who started her career as an auxiliary nurse at the JPUH in 1983, said: “There is a great team spirit at the vaccination hub – and the people receiving their jab are just so grateful to have it.

“It’s also fantastic to be contributing to such an historic and successful vaccination programme."

With falling Covid infection rates, she urged people to remember Covid-19 remained a serious illness.

She added: “Speaking from experience, it’s grim – and people must remember that. It is crucial that people continue to follow the current restrictions and make sure that they don’t hesitate to get their jab when they are called.”

Linda Davis - Retired nurse

Linda Davis was due to retire from the James Paget University Hospital last August.

Linda Davis was due to retire from the James Paget University Hospital last August. - Credit: JPUH

The retired nurse from Belton also returned to work in the JPUH vaccination hub after retiring last August. 

The 67-year-old has been nursing patients at the James Paget since 1982 working within the stroke specialist team.

After agreeing to stay on to deliver the trust's flu vaccine she also joined the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

She said: “During my career, I have witnessed first-hand the immense benefits that science and technology have brought to healthcare. When I started my nurse training, the first CT brain scanners had just come into operation – a historic development which really moved patient treatment forward.

“Now I feel it is a privilege to be involved in another historic moment, as we use safe and effective vaccines to help protect ourselves against the virus.”

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