I love the challenge of nursing out in the community for Julia’s House. I have to rely on my skills and my ability to cope under pressure no matter what is thrown at me.
It’s not like being on a ward where you can ring a bell and doctors and nurses will come running to help. In rural Dorset the nearest ambulance could be 20 minutes away. You must rely on your skill, your knowledge, your nerve, to see you through. You have to be able to stay calm for yourself and for the child.
That all sounds scary but actually because we have the time to really get to know the families, know the children, we are attuned to their needs and know all their little quirks. We know what to look out for, recognise when things aren’t quite right. We have the confidence to deal with all sorts of tricky – even life-threatening – situations.
And that’s why families can enjoy their respite – they know there child is in safe hands with someone they know really well. That’s comforting for the child and so reassuring for parents.
Of course, the training and support we get at Julia’s House is a huge part of building that confidence. I am responsible for teaching manual handling which sounds really dull, but it is not about the right way to lift boxes, it’s about taking care of fragile little bodies.
I injured my back when I was young and so I am keen to make sure staff here – who do a lot of lifting of children – are properly trained to protect themselves from injury. But actually, the bigger part of my job is to create training tailored to protect the children we care for.
Lots of our children are quite floppy and can’t support themselves very well. They can get scrunched up in wheelchairs or pushchairs. They also might have tubes coming out of their bodies or suffer from muscle spasms. We don’t want to damage their spines or bruise them by lifting them awkwardly.
Our manual handling at Julia’s House is unique. I have spoken to physios and developed a programme tailored for children. I am passionate about educating the care team and parents in the best ways to support and lift them – or find the right equipment to help.
Julia’s House is all about finding positives and offering support – practical and emotional.
I want to take the stress away for a family – even if it is only for a couple of hours. One mum has the chance to eat a peaceful meal with her other child while I take care of bath time. On another occasion a whole family enjoyed a rare day at the beach, a chance to go for a swim together, because I was there to look after their poorly child.
This is more than nursing. I am privileged to share special intimate moments like bath time and bedtime – reading a bedtime story – with those children. I am a professional, of course, but I am treated like a trusted friend of the family, and that’s an incredible feeling.
I absolutely love working for Julia’s House – love it, love it, and love it! It really is the best job in the world. I am so glad I went into paediatric nursing - incredible to think I had been planning to do an international banking degree!