Nurses’ Day 2018: ‘I never dread coming to work’

Jo Howling. Photo: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust

Jo Howling. Photo: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust

'I love what I do; I never dread coming to work.'

That was the feeling of Jo Howling, a senior maternity support worker in the community midwives team at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She has come into direct contact with thousands of women and their families, offering widespread knowledge, professionalism and a comforting smile in her 17 years at the trust, gaining experience across the full range of maternity services.

At the time when she gained her NVQ levels 2 and 3, maternity services were new to that work-based qualification.

Jo then moved into the community, initially helping the network of midwives with clinical issues such as newborn screening and wound care.

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It was with her UNICEF breastfeeding knowledge and tips which Jo, 55, really made her mark, introducing regular workshops into the Downham Market and Swaffham areas.

Jo said: 'I also trained midwives, children's ward staff, the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) team and children's centre staff in the community.'

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Lately Jo has been involved in the running of another service, supporting parents of children with tongue-tie, a condition which can make breastfeeding problematic.

There is not much Jo doesn't know about newborn babies, and countless adults have benefited from her priceless knowledge and experience.

She said: 'It's a team effort. I like the variety in my role and I like the fact that you are often seeing people in their own homes so they are more relaxed.

'A new mum might be anxious or upset before you arrive but by the end of your visit they are much calmer and really grateful.

'But it's not just about the woman, it's about giving the whole family support – sometimes the partner is just as anxious about their little family unit.'

Lesley Mayes, midwife and Jo's community team leader, says it is a pleasure to work with 'such a motivated and dedicated lady'.

She added: 'Jo is kind, considerate, patient and the women adore her. Nothing is too much trouble for Jo, and every midwife in our department will tell you how valued she is.'

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