Andrew Knight recently returned from retirement to work on our wards during the coronavirus pandemic. Here, he shares his reflections on what it’s like to be back caring for local terminally ill people.
“It’s good to be back. I had been doing periodic Grief and Loss Workshops at the hospice since I left the wards to retire in April 2019, but I had no intention of returning to provide care on the wards.
The coronavirus, my conscience, still being on the nursing register, and knowing that I would be dangerous in anywhere other than a hospice setting meant that I could only re-apply to one place: St Catherine’s.
Of course, as anyone knows who has worked at St Catherine’s, the staff are wonderful. Truly. During retirement, I was still travelling around other hospices, either for the CQC, CHKS or Schwartz Rounds, and can honestly say that there is nowhere else quite like St Catherine’s. The staff, regardless of position or department are warm, generous, welcoming. They have an it’s-okay-we-can-sort-this attitude, just the sort of thing you need in an uncertain time. I have watched as relatives and friends have been screened and then allowed to visit patients. They are reassured, not only because we’re taking precautions, but also, by the very evident calming and professional atmosphere promoted by staff.
I believe that the reason that staff are able to feel and act like this is because they’re reassured and feel safe themselves, that any concerns that they have will be listened to, and that working practices are based on the correct advice. There’s a huge amount of uncertainty at the moment, and staff need to know that the concerns that they bring from home will be accounted for, and those that they have working alongside patients with a possible COVID diagnosis will be addressed. Sensibly and openly.
Sitting, waiting for supervision clients the other day, I read in my old supervision ‘bible’ the following: “Yet now more than ever, it’s imperative to retain the capacity to think and act effectively under threat. If anxiety can be contained, then what needs to be talked about can be named, and some effectiveness recovered.” That was written in 1994, but feels so true today and it’s good to see that anxiety is contained and that staff are effective at St Catherine’s.
I have fallen in love with nursing again and the power to make a difference. Just by showing that I cared, so simple a thing to do, I’ve added another patient to my ‘Patients I will never forget’ list and another family as a good memory.
Just by doing my old job again.
Just being there at my, our lovely St Catherine’s.”