During the current coronavirus crisis, many people have stepped forward to help the NHS in its daily battle against the pandemic. One of them is local nurse Rebecca Charlton. Rebecca is a nurse at Julia’s House, but took the difficult decision to leave the Dorset and Wiltshire children’s hospice charity and return to a local NHS hospital Emergency Department (ED) during the Covid-19 outbreak. Here’s her personal story:
I had only left the ED three months before the COVID-19 pandemic. I had a conversation with the team at Julia’s House and felt that I would be most useful returning to the NHS as I had only been with them for a short time. Being a nurse, I like to feel useful and that I am helping as much as I can.
Yes it was a difficult decision, I was starting to find my feet and feel settled at Julia’s House. I was feeling like part of the team and I think it is always a difficult decision to go back after making a decision to leave somewhere. Having worked in the emergency department for over 13 years, I felt like my skills and knowledge were best placed to return and work alongside my NHS colleagues and friends in the emergency department at such a crucial time.
In the ED I am working in both green and red areas depending on where I’m allocated. As a nurse, I am covering different aspects of the department such as co-ordinating areas, resus and streaming.
To start with I found things difficult as all the systems and ways of working had changed since I was last there. Now however, things change on a daily basis and we have all learnt to be flexible and adapt to changes as and when required. Adapting to working whilst wearing PPE has been challenging, a lot of communication is non-verbal and wearing face coverings can be a barrier to this. Also, trying to make patients feel reassured is difficult when you are wearing gloves and unable to provide comfort as you would do normally.
Nurse Rebecca Charlton in a surgical mask. Rebecca usually wears full PPE
Several of my colleagues have also returned to the emergency department from other areas and I feel that this has helped us with team work and spirit. It’s rewarding to feel that you are making a difference.
The most worrying thing for me was if I caught COVID-19 and took it home to my family - my husband is asthmatic. So, I took the decision to move out prior to starting back in the emergency department to minimise any risk to my family.
We all work well together as a team throughout the emergency department and the hospital as a whole. It feels very much that we are all in this together. I feel well supported by both my current team and Julia’s House - they are in regular contact to see how I am doing.
I am really missing my Julia’s House team and I am very much looking forward to when some sort of normality can return. I am especially missing my community respite sessions with the children. I have been lucky that prior to returning to the NHS I had some lovely sessions that had been lengthened due to COVID-19 and gave me opportunities to really get to know some of the children and their families.
I am not sure how to answer this - I find it makes me feel a bit awkward as I am just doing my job. There are more people deserving of recognition during this time, for example the families Julia’s House provides respite care to that are currently doing it all themselves.
Julia’s House is adapting its care on a day-to-day basis so that it can continue to support the most vulnerable children and families during the coronavirus crisis. Our nurses and carers are still visiting family homes wearing PPE to provide care, reassurance and advice to anxious parents. Crucially, their support is easing the burden on an overstretched NHS by enabling these children to stay at home.