We are profiling amazing practice and community nurses, and midwives, during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of our Nursing Stars campaign, partnering with cross-sector movement New NHS Alliance. Here we speak to Sarah Noble.
What is your role?
I am a newly qualified general practice nurse, who qualified in November 2019, currently based within the Bradford area. On a normal day, I complete childhood immunisations, travel clinics, diabetic reviews, venepuncture, and wound care. I also recently moved practice in October 2020, which has allowed me to further my scope of training and increase my skills and knowledge. I enjoyed childhood immunisations as I had a set clinic each week that allowed me to have continuity throughout my weeks.
What work have you been doing during the Covid outbreak?
As a newly qualified nurse working throughout Covid-19, I feel I have had to learn very quickly to be able to support patients and staff members. The PPE was the biggest challenge as we only received masks, gloves, and aprons but no shields or face protection. During this time, I located face shields, but also sourced scrubs for all the staff to wear as part of infection control measures. There has also been a significant change to our clinics. Management have cut down the number of staff in the building so I spend one day face to face and then four days at home phoning the vulnerable and at-risk patients to ensure they have enough food and medication.
Why would you say you are a nursing Covid star?
I think in primary care, we are often forgotten about with the work we are currently providing. I feel my work around the vulnerable and at-risk patients is something that I have strived hard to complete since the start of lockdown. I have worked closely with a service within Bradford called Health Action Local Englagement (HALE). They have been supporting our patients to ensure they have had enough food and enough medication. We have referred over one hundred patients to them who would have been at risk without. There have been welfare calls from the team and home visits completed for those patients who we could not contact via the phone. The feedback from patients has been phenomenal. They were worried they would have been forgotten about, which is difficult to hear as in some areas this service was not available.
What have you learnt from the experience of working during Covid?
As a newly qualified working during a pandemic, it has been one of the hardest things I will ever have to do as it’s not something you are trained to be able to handle! I have learnt that you need to be prepared for anything, treat each patient as an individual but be aware of what you are walking into. Don’t do anything you do not feel comfortable completing, it is ok to say no and ask another colleague to review them.
I think you also become more isolated so it is really important to make sure you continue to talk to colleagues and debrief where needed. Since I changed practice, I am in clinics on a daily basis, which I feel really helped my learning and also team support has been fantastic.
How do you think Covid will impact the way you work in the future?
I feel there will be lots of changes in the future including providing more home visits to at-risk patients to provide care and support within the community setting.
Lone working has always been evident in primary care but with new ways of working, I do wonder whether this will increase. This would mean we’d need to link into more services and link with other practice nurses within the area to increase the support networks. It is going to be something to watch over the coming months and will be interesting to see which direction we move into.
It’s been a difficult few months. I had just got comfortable within my own clinics so this has definitely opened my eyes and made me work more independently very quickly. Having the support from the General Practice Nursing Student Nurse Network (GPN SNN) team has really helped and completing my daily blog videos helped my reflection but to also know we are not alone.