International Nurses Day – an opportunity to reflect on the impact nurses make

Nurses in Lancashire and South Cumbria reflect on heart-warming moments from their careers as the NHS celebrates International Nurses Day.

The annual campaign held on Friday 12 May not only recognises the importance of the nursing profession but also gives nurses the chance to reflect on pivotal moments within their careers.

Coinciding with the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, this year the local NHS is focusing on the vital differences nurses make every single day.

Carole McCann, chief nurse for the Lancashire and South Cumbria COVID-19 vaccination programme, remembers a patient that she used to visit as a district nurse.

“Near the start of my career, I was visiting a patient who had just been discharged from hospital. He was recovering from significant abdominal surgery, and he had three young children all under the age of five.

“He had been promising them that when he got out of hospital he would take them to Chester Zoo, so one day he asked me if this would be possible. I thought this was a great idea but because his surgery had been so extensive he needed new dressings every day, so I arranged to visit him earlier so he was free to take them.

“When I next went round, his children were so thrilled that he had been able to go with them and it really showed me that it’s the little things that make a big difference. All I had to do was start work an hour earlier so he could have that special moment with his family.”

Kathryn Lord, director of quality assurance, patient safety and nursing for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), looks back at a moment that has stayed with her for years.

“One night shift I found a lady sitting in bed crying. She had just had a liver transplant and I think the traumatic experience of what she had gone through had dawned on her.

“She had been moved from intensive care to critical care, to high dependency and then on to the ward where I was. I went and made her a brew and I sat with her talking to her and listening. We spoke about life, love, loss and gain and I’m truly grateful that I could be there for her during that time.”

Being a nurse isn’t just about supporting someone’s physical and mental health well-being, it’s about supporting the individual as a whole.

Ashraf Karbhari, a mental health nurse in Lancashire and South Cumbria, helped teach a patient to read during their stay in hospital.

“Early on in my career, I was caring for a patient who had a mental health diagnosis. During one of our conversations, she mentioned that she struggled to read and she’d love to be able to read a book to her children when they visited her.

“With the help of the wider nursing team and the allied healthcare professionals, we got the patient to a stage where she could read and write in English. This support really encouraged her and when she was discharged she went on to complete her GCSE in English.

“I can still remember the beaming smiles of her children when they heard their mum reading a story to them.”

Sarah O’Brien chief nurse for Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB has worked in the NHS for more than 25 years and is passionate about the work nurses do.

She said: “Nursing is a career that has opened up so many opportunities for me. As a nurse I have travelled all over the world presenting at conferences, and as well as being a clinical expert, I have been a researcher, an educator and a manager.

“But for me most importantly what’s great about nursing is that I genuinely feel that every day I’ve been able to make a difference, and nothing is more rewarding than that.

“I would say to anybody out there who is thinking of going into nursing to go for it – it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

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