“Where to begin, well it’ll be early for a start! No day is typical and while you may have an ideal day planned, there’s no guarantee. Therefore you have to be a bit of a girl guide and be prepared for the unexpected – but that’s what you get when you ignore the old showbiz advice “never work with children and animals!”
When I arrived in Shropshire my previous community nursing experience had been on the mean streets of Liverpool (as a scouser, I’m allowed to say that!). I envisaged scenic, stress‑free driving but reckoned without hours sat trapped behind tractors and other slow-moving vehicles. So glad I have an old but reliable car, as it is frequently covered in mud and tree branches from reversing down narrow, muddy tracks. In wild, west Shropshire I’ve learned that care must be taken to avoid obstructions on the roads such as sheep, cyclists and failed satnavs!
Visiting in the home involves working very closely with families to deliver care to children while entertaining inquisitive siblings and stepping around a variety of loved family pets including cats, dogs and abusive parrots. A friendly approach and a good sense of humour are important especially if you’re being hugged/wrestled onto the bed by an over friendly 10-year-old patient!
Everyday practice includes injections into legs and bums; passing feeding tubes (usually pulled out on a Friday after 5pm); a variety of wound dressings some in places which would make the “embarrassing bodies” team blush; care of a variety of body openings or stomas; offering advice and support to parents, empowering them to meet their child’s health needs; training staff to care for children in nursery and other community settings.
A large part of the role involves tracking down by telephone and email and sometimes meeting other busy professionals such as GPs, hospital and community consultants, hospital nurses, school nurses, health visitors, dieticians, speech therapists and physiotherapists in order to enhance co-ordination and continuity of children’s care.
Some days can be very emotionally demanding, working to support children and their families from the point of diagnosis, through the roller coaster of their journey and sometimes sadly through to the death of their child. Working within a supportive team helps, as does the satisfaction of being allowed into the homes and lives of some very special children and their families”.
Ode to a Community Children’s Nurse
Tales of school and what’s on telly,
Changing dressings, sometimes smelly,
Fighting off pets and inquisitive siblings,
To deliver care without any quibbling.
Claire Woods, CCN, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust