On the frontline: Returning to the NHS during Covid-19

Categories: Care and Featured.

While the Coronavirus pandemic has been ongoing many people have stepped forward to help the NHS, through being redeployed from other roles or returning to work after retirement, in many cases making great personal sacrifices for the benefit of others. Nurse Rebecca Charlton tells us about leaving the Dorset and Wiltshire children’s hospice Julia’s House to be on the frontline of a local NHS hospital Emergency Department, moving out of home to protect her husband’s health in the process. 

I had only left the Emergency Department (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.

It was a difficult decision, as 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 there at such a crucial time.

In the ED I work in both green (Covid-free) and red areas (where patients with Covid-19 are treated) depending on where I’m allocated. As a nurse, I am covering different aspects of the department such as co-ordinating areas, resuscitation 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 are unable to provide comfort as you would do normally.

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.

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.

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.

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 visits with the children. I have been lucky that prior to returning to the NHS I had some lovely visits that had been lengthened due to Covid-19 and gave me opportunities to really get to know some of the children and their families.

For more information visit Julia’s House  

Children’s Hospice Week runs until June 28th

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