Linda Pearson in Personal Protective Equipment.
Coming to a home near you
My day at work in lockdown
By Linda Pearson
The landscape of nursing has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. From the frontline of ITU to the community there are questions of what is appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for each area as WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines are different to Public Health England and those who are looking after patients are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
For patients Covid -19; positive and non Covid. In hospitals diagnosis can be confirmed so staff are mostly aware of Covid and non Covid patients. Due to delay of testing in the community it’s a bit more random, hence the need for (PPE) for community nurses to protect those we visit, and hopefully to provide a degree of protection for ourselves.
The prospect of Covid affecting a loved one has encouraged family members to take responsibility for an elderly relative's simple medication administration (something we have been trying to encourage pre Covid), but there are those who have nobody else who can provide essential care required and who have disorders that require professional nursing assessment and, sadly, others whose disease processes causes them to be so sick that families can’t provide the appropriate care they need.
As the names of forthcoming funerals are given out at each Zoom Sunday service, I recognise that a big part of community nursing is palliative/end of life care. It still remains a privilege to be allowed to enter into a family’s most emotional and intimate time.
But in lockdown there is not always the family support available due to social distancing. There can be no comforting hugs or kisses. Family emotional support is provided by social media, and we fight our instinct to hold a hand or give a comforting hug in these present times.
We also have the added obstruction of wearing face masks, which can sometimes make communication difficult. You learn to smise (smile with your eyes!). Some of these patients and relatives we have had intense relationships with and it feels as if you are leaving a little piece of your heart with them and taking a little piece of theirs with you.
To prepare staff for continuing to care for patients in the days of PPE we had to watch a video regarding donning and doffing PPE, (putting on and taking off. The NHS loves its jargon). But even after all these weeks of lockdown I still feel conspicuous donning and doffing PPE outside a patient's house before and after visiting. Especially on VE Day when everybody in the street was standing at their doorway.
Each morning we go to the office to fill our little bottles of hand sanitiser (I get through 2-3 bottles per day) and sign out the PPE required for the list of patients each day. Each piece is accounted for - mask, gloves and aprons have become a routine part of the uniform, with face visors and overshoes if required plus a large packet of anti bacterial wipes for equipment and car interior.
Although patients seem very accepting of this strange attire, I wonder if I will ever get used to it, and the effects it has - dry throat, sore nose, dry skin, spots and boils (thank you to those who have given us moisturiser cream).
We still meet in the office, (though sitting further apart to maintain social distancing) if time permits, as lists get longer and more complex. Contrary to popular belief, we are still attending to patients in residential care, and GPs are doing conference calls.
At the end of the day when I get home, as suggested I do what’s now known as the drop and dash. Shoes off in the porch, strip off uniform and put into bag provided (thank you once again). Put dressing gown on and run up and shower, dress (sometimes PJs, well I’m not going out and nobody’s visiting), put uniform in bag and dressing gown into washing machine. Wipe shoes with anti bac wipe ready for another day.
There is still the camaraderie, there is still the laughter, and there is a wobble room if we need space to just be and gather our thoughts. After one particularly difficult visit I used the room to listen to the morning prayer as I missed it earlier. My faith that God has got this, fortifies my strength and resilience.
We give thanks for the daily free sandwiches from M&S as we are no longer allowed to go to the supermarket to grab lunch, and give thanks to the different companies for all the freebies generously donated.
As we sit and eat the doughnuts the Trust has provided today one of my colleagues says it’s a great time to be a nurse isn’t it? As another said, apart from the fact we could die!
What did we do? We laughed! I think it’s that warped sense of humour that keeps us going. But the elephant's presence remains in the room. Nobody knows what the future holds. I just hope and pray the PPE doesn’t run out before Coronavirus is controlled. God bless us all.
Love it or hate it, life in lockdown due to Coronavirus looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. But how are you coping with it? Are you finding lots of things to do with your time, or are you struggling?
Here's your chance to let other people in the Team Parish know what the lockdown means to you and what you have been doing to fill your time. Perhaps you are spending more time on your garden, or perhaps you're reading some books. Perhaps you have even tried a lockdown haircut at home!
Whatever you have been doing we would like to know. If you have ever fancied trying to write something, now is the time to give it a go. We want to publish your article on the Team Parish website. It can be any length and it would be nice to include a picture, or pictures, if you can to illustrate what you have been doing. We will also be compiling a booklet, which we hope to publish once life returns to normal again, as a keepsake of what life was like for us all under the pandemic.
All you have to do to take part is email your story (or poems) and picture(s) to Website Editor Phil Balding at: firstname.lastname@example.org and once we have some we will start to publish them on the Team Parish website.