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CRN KSS Senior Research Nurse’s patient care role during pandemic

CRN KSS Senior Research Nurse’s patient care role during pandemic

My name is Claire Cox and I’m Senior Research Nurse at NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS).

Before the COVID-19 pandemic I was mainly working in the Primary Care delivery team. For the last 12 months I have also been supporting social care and public health research, working closely with local authorities, universities and researchers.

When the Covid pandemic happened I wanted to look for opportunities to contribute, particularly as a nurse rather than a researcher. It felt like the natural thing for me to do. I had an inner calling as a trained nurse to support patients and NHS colleagues, so I looked into working within a hospital setting close to home.

I was redeployed to Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, which happens to be my previous employer, to work within the intermediate care unit at Lewes Victoria Hospital. The unit is stand alone and has 23 beds in two wings and is a multi disciplinary intermediate care unit. The patients are generally older people who have had falls, operations, fractures and they have come from acute hospitals for rehabilitation before they go home.

I knew going back into front line nursing initially would be quite hard as I had not done direct adult patient care for about 20 years. I am three weeks in now and it has been hard at times both physically and emotionally.

After undertaking refresher training, my first shift was as a Healthcare Assistant shadowing another member of staff and then I started doing 12 hours shifts as a nurse, at first still shadowing. I am now feeling more competent and confident and as well as a range of other activities, I am also able to administer medicines, although there is another registrant around in case I need advice and support. I have really enjoyed looking after patients again and I have felt valued as a team member. The team is great to work with as they are all very supportive of each other.

We have nursed some patients with COVID-19 in single rooms with most being en-suite so they are fully equipped with what the patients need. If the patients do have COVID-19 we need to wear additional protective preventative equipment (PPE) and wear masks, gloves and aprons all the time anyway.

I have been wearing my CRN KSS Research Nurse uniform at the hospital and I have been getting a lot of questions about research which is great. I have had conversations with staff about career paths in research and how they can get involved. There have been quite a few opportunities to raise the profile of NIHR and to make them aware of the R&D team at the trust and how we work with them. Even the patients have been asking questions about research.

Although this is an awful and distressing time I feel privileged I can make a difference with what I'm fundamentally good at, being with someone at a time when they need a carer or nurse.