NHS staff across the UK are facing a daily battle with the coronavirus and many people have been stepping up to offer their help. One such person is local nurse Rebecca Charlton, a nurse at Julia’s House who made the difficult decision to leave the charity to return to a local NHS Emergency Department.
Rebecca chose to share her story about what made her choose to return to her former life as an NHS nurse, the challenges she faces and what makes it all feel worthwhile.
What took you back to the NHS during COVID-19?
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.
Was it a difficult decision and why?
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 ED 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.
What is your role?
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 coordinating areas, resus and streaming.
What are the particular challenges?
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.
What are you finding rewarding about the role?
Several of my colleagues have also returned to the ED 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.
What’s the most worrying thing for you?
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 ED to minimise any risk to my family.
What’s the camaraderie like in your team?
We all work well together as a team throughout the ED and the hospital as a whole. It feels very much that we are all in this together. I feel well supported by both the ED and Julia’s House – they are in regular contact to see how I am doing.
What are you missing about Julia’s House and the children you care for?
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 sits with the children. I have been lucky that prior to returning to the NHS I had some lovely sits that had been lengthened due to COVID-19 and gave me opportunities to really get to know some of the children and their families.
What does the clap for carers mean to you?
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 such as, the families Julia’s House provides respite care to that are currently doing it all themselves.
Julia’s House supports families of children with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses across Dorset and Wiltshire. Many of the children require constant care, which can have a significant impact on family life. To find out more about the charity and the work they do, visit their website.