International Nurses Day: the stories from nurses close to Carrington Textiles

Celebrating their courage and professionalism during the pandemic to keep us all safe

This 12th May it’s International Nurses Day and at Carrington Textiles we wanted to celebrate the incredible work these professionals are doing around the world to keep people safe during these unprecedented times.

We asked our colleagues for stories from family members working as a nurse on the frontline and here what they had to say:

Gwyn McGrath –Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse at Royal Bolton Hospital and mother of our Accounts Administrator Megan McGrath

Can you tell us about what you do?
I work as a registered nurse in the Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the Royal Bolton Hospital. My specific role is providing complete nursing care for critically ill adults who are ventilated. It is a complex role including maintaining ventilation and often preparing numerous drug infusions, sometimes including support for renal function by a process of haemofiltration. We record hourly observations and send regular arterial blood samples. We also sample blood gases to enable weaning from ventilation wherever possible. I have worked on ICU for 27 years.

How did you find the process of becoming a nurse?
I entered nurse training in July 1989, a three-year course to qualify as a Registered General Nurse. At that time, it was a traditional course, working in each of the specialities with written assessments after each placement. I felt valued as a student nurse, working on wards with increasing responsibility throughout the training. I enjoyed my training and qualified as a registered nurse in 1992.

After working for just over a year on a male orthopaedic ward, I was interviewed for ICU and thus began my career. I completed my diploma in Critical Care Nursing in 1997.

What’s the story behind you becoming a nurse?
Nursing was a career I had always wanted to follow as I had a passion for caring for people, and I had intended to follow this passion when I finished my ‘O Levels’ at Bury Grammar School in 1975 by hopefully applying for Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, but life got in the way! I became a mother in 1977 and the emphasis then was on making ends meet, working in skilled and unskilled employment (working multiple jobs). The earliest opportunity I had to start training was 1989 when I applied to the Nursing Clearance House and then successfully interviewed.

What’s the most rewarding thing about nursing?
The most rewarding thing about nursing in ICU is to see a patient progress from complete dependence on a ventilator, to being able to wean from ventilation, and then be well enough to leave the ICU. Communicating with and supporting the family of all ICU patients is rewarding too.

The very best part of my job is when an ex-patient returns to visit the ward, fit and well.

Even when a patient reaches end of life care, it can be rewarding, involving families in the care of a patient and treating every single patient as the individual and unique person they are.

How’s being a nurse during a pandemic? Was that something you ever thought you’d experience?
Throughout my career in ICU there have been preparations for potential pandemics. In 2004, there was the threat of SARS, in the event of only 4 patients in the UK and no deaths.

Asian bird flu and swine flu were other supposed potential pandemics which did not materialise.

However, during each of these threats, ICU staff were fit-tested for FFP3 masks, to ensure proper protection. With each new brand of PPE, the fit-tested process is repeated.

Covid-19 is a pandemic like nothing any of the nurses have ever experienced in the UK. In all my years on ICU I could never, ever have imagined experiencing anything on the scale of this current situation.

The PPE is extremely restrictive and uncomfortable: gowns, masks, visors and double layers of gloves are extremely uncomfortable and makes communication exhausting. The maximum time in this equipment is ideally restricted to 4 hours – we work for 4 hours (maximum) in the PPE, have a break in which the PPE is removed and then go through the process of putting PPE back on to go back to work after our break. The process of putting on (‘donning’) and removing (‘doffing’) is vitally important to prevent self-infection!

The high incidences of death for ventilated patients with Covid-19 is extremely distressing for all involved, and with visiting at the hospital suspended, the whole hospital is eerily quiet now.

 

Sarah Jeffrey – Clinical Skills Tutor at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and niece of Quality Control team member Sharon English

Can you tell us about what you do?
I have worked for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for almost 16 years. I started my career in Head and Neck Surgery and after 11 years moved into my current role as Clinical Skills Tutor in the Clinical Education Team.

How did you find the process of becoming a nurse?
The process of becoming of nurse was pretty straightforward with a good range of routes into the profession. I enjoyed studying and knew that I wanted to complete my A-levels and then commence the degree programme. I did this at Leeds Metropolitan University where I graduated in 2004 with a First Class BSc(Hons) in Adult Nursing. After 18 months of clinical experience I completed a further module on mentorship to work more closely with student nurses and found this very rewarding. This was the start of my interest in education and helping other staff develop within healthcare.

Once I had my children, nursing gave me the flexibility to work part time to meet my childcare needs and it was only once they both started school that I decided to return to studying. In 2015 I applied for funding through my employer and commenced a module as part of an MSc Nursing programme at the University of Central Lancashire. The intention was to see how I found juggling work, a house, and 2 children whilst my husband was often away working with the Royal Marines. However, before I knew it after a lot of hard work I had completed the entire programme and graduated in 2018 with a Distinction.

I am currently studying for a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Clinical Practice at Edge Hill University which focusses more on the processes of education in healthcare. I love that I work in a profession which offers the opportunity to continue studying and developing within whatever role you are in.

What’s the story behind you becoming a nurse?
I have always enjoyed interacting with people and after considering many career options in healthcare I decided on nursing as a career whilst doing my GCSE’s. I selected A-levels which would lead me into this field and obtained the grades to pursue my offer of a place at Leeds Metropolitan University. Whilst I enjoyed every aspect of nursing I knew early that I had a specific interest in surgical nursing. After completing my degree I couldn’t wait to start my career and was excited to be offered a job on an acute Head and Neck surgical ward at Royal Preston Hospital which allowed me to move back to my hometown of Chorley. I stayed working in this department for 11 years and although I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than nursing, I knew I had a specific interest in education. It was then I moved to a new role in the clinical education team and I consider myself very lucky to be in a role that combines my passion for both of these elements.

What’s the most rewarding thing about nursing?
I loved working in the clinical setting and with patients, finding it both challenging and fulfilling. I enjoyed helping people and nursing gave me the opportunity to use my skills to do this. Being able to care for patients, knowing that I may have been able to make a difference to them and their families was very rewarding. However, it was working with students and new staff members and using my experience for their development that really gave me a sense of fulfilment and like I could make a big difference to patient care. As time progressed I was aware that my clinical role meant that I was only able to influence a small number and that an educational role would allow me to access bigger numbers of staff. It was during my Masters programme that I decided to move to a new role in the Clinical Education Team, meaning I had to start developing a whole new skills set around teaching and delivering training to nursing, allied health professional and medical staff. I feel like combining my love of nursing and teaching is the perfect role for me.

Many people who I train ask me if I miss ‘being a nurse’, however I feel like I am very much in nursing and patient care is always at the heart of everything I do. Whilst I may not be delivering the care directly, there is great responsibility in training staff in new skills and ensuring that they are up to date with best practice, and my approach to this is very much patient centred.

How’s being a nurse during a pandemic? Was that something you ever thought you’d experience?
I can honestly say I never really thought about what nursing during a pandemic would be like. Nursing as a career is busy, challenging and stressful. There are never any two days that are the same and situations can change minute by minute, which is part the appeal of this as a chosen career. I have learnt to take each day as it comes, work hard with whatever situation is in front of me. Applying this approach to the current situation has meant that I have been able to continue working in the same way.

 

Susan Price – Auxiliary Nurse at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust - Wife of Marketing Executive Justin Price

Can you tell us about what you do?
I work at Wrightington Hospital as an Auxiliary Nurse and have been in this role for over 4 years.

How did you find the process of becoming a nurse?
My journey started as a nursery nurse working with children, which is where I realised the care industry was for me. I then moved on to work with adults and begin my training. This continued over the next 10 years in both the private industry and then eventually moving to work for the NHS.

What’s the story behind you becoming a nurse?
Working in health and care for over ten years now, I previously worked for a private company for mental health and learning difficulties. This gave me the experience of dealing with challenging situations and patients with complex needs. Eventually it was time for a new challenge and something that fitted in more around my family life, so I started my role within the NHS at Wrightington Hospital.

What’s the most rewarding thing about nursing?
Showing people compassion when they need it the most and helping them when they can be at their lowest.

How’s being a nurse during a pandemic? Was that something you ever thought you’d experience?
I have always been aware that there was a possibility something like this could happen one day, but not on this sort of scale. I have been proud to work as part of this special team and to play my part. It has not been easy with family commitments and not knowing how long it might go on for.

 

Aimee Byrne, Auxiliary Nurse at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust – Future daughter-in-law of Stock Controller Alison Lamb

Can you tell us about what you do?
I am an auxiliary nurse on the Astley ward at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust. I work under a registered nurse to ensure the patients in our care are well looked after and have all the correct treatment they need. I have been doing my role for 7 years.

How did you find the process of becoming a nurse?
When I left school I went to college to study public services for 2 years. I knew I wanted to work in healthcare but wasn't quite sure which route to take, so I thought this was a good step for me. I decided to go for an interview which I found quite simple after having researched the hospital’s policies and job role.

What’s the story behind you becoming a nurse?
Coming towards the end of college, my late great grandad became poorly and lived with us in my family home where we looked after him and helped him with his every day needs. Once he had passed I knew I wanted to carry on giving support and help to people who needed it. This is when I went into home care. I did that for 1 year and then got a job at WWL. I was very nervous and scared as I knew it would be completely different to what I have previously done. 7 years on I am still here on an amazing ward learning something new every day. I am glad I chose this path to go down.

What’s the most rewarding thing about nursing?
Since I have been at WWL everything about nursing is rewarding but the most rewarding thing to me is seeing the smile on a patient’s face and them knowing they are in a safe and comfortable place.

How’s being a nurse during a pandemic? Was that something you ever thought you’d experience?
Being thrown in at the deep end with no one experiencing anything like what's happening is very scary. There has been days where I drive to work and could cry thinking about the safety of myself, friends and family. Every shift when we work we put our PPE on and you can't help but feel scared and frightened inside, but I put a brave face on hold back the tears and provide the best care I can give to the patients that are scared for their lives. I never in a million years thought anything like this would happen. You hear about stuff happening and you never think it would come to your area and you’ll be working within in it. I am so thankful for the amazing people I work with on Astley ward as we are a team and support each other when we are scared as no one knows what's to expect from one day to another.

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