I studied for my Children’s Nursing degree at Sheffield Hallam University, qualifying in 1996. I worked at Rotherham District General and then came to QMC in 1999. I first worked on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) then moved to work as a Junior Sister on E41, which was a paediatric ward at the time. I returned to PICU after my daughter was born in 2005 and I’ve been here ever since. I became a Sister two years ago.
I love working within the Children’s Hospital. The wards work very closely with us on PICU and we are very much dependant on teamwork to ensure the best care for our patients. PICU is so varied and no day is the same. Every patient is unique and you never know exactly what will happen next, I guess that’s why I’m still here after all these years.
It’s been brilliant to be involved with all the changes the unit has seen. We have increased our bed capacity from 6 to 14 as we combined with the High Dependency Unit. As technology has advanced we have also been able to increase the treatments we can offer, including ventilated children being cared for at home. This has led to PICU being very much a place where communication and education are vital, you are constantly learning new things and meeting new people.
PICU can be a challenging place to work, particularly over winter with the current bed capacity issues. Many Intensive Care Units across the country have been full over winter and it’s been a team effort to ensure that children across the region receive the appropriate care. It can be a daily challenge to juggle beds and staff and these issues involve working closely with the site matron and surrounding hospitals.
I have cared for so many patients over the years and it’s very often the families that stay in your mind rather than the patients as you have such a close, supportive relationship with them. However a couple of memorable patients spring to mind. There was a boy who had been in a serious car accident, he had been so very ill and had been very close to death at various times.
I remember one night, I held his hand and talked to him as I had promised his mum he wouldn’t be left alone, and she so desperately needed rest. I was telling him about a game involving balancing chocolate on your face – which was a game my kids had played on holiday. The boy managed to make a full recovery and I hadn’t really thought much about it until he came back to visit a few months later. He recognised my voice and could actually remember all about the chocolate game which goes to show the impact as nurses we have on patients even when they are unconscious.
Another patient was a girl who had Meningococcal Septicaemia, I recall sitting with Dr Patrick Davies and discussing with her parents how we weren’t sure she would pull through, but we would do all we could for her. She survived and has gone on to have her own YouTube channel discussing how she lives with her amputations. My daughter actually came home from school one day telling me a story of a visitor she had had at school that day – it turned out to be her! It makes me so proud to think that without the fantastic hard work of our staff she wouldn’t be here today, making a difference to others lives.
PICU is an exceptional place to work and I feel very privileged that I get to care for families when we are very often the last hope they have. It can be a very emotional place at times however we are such a close team that support each other.