Updated: Oct 12
Hello, I’m Clare, and I’ve been a registered nurse for 39 years. I’ve worked in different areas within nursing, including Integrated Medicine, education, and training and many years in Palliative Care – working in children’s and adult hospices.
During the pandemic, I managed inpatient services in three community hospitals, and supporting the staff daily became a priority. We had to provide care for patients and their families who were unwell and distressed or unable to visit their loved ones. At the same time we were caring for our colleagues who were facing their own fears about the Covid virus. As you probably heard or read in the news, many nurses even isolated themselves from their families, so they could continue caring for Covid patients without risking bringing the virus home with them.
As you can imagine, all of that took a huge toll on the staff’s physical and mental health, and nurses were under enormous stress, with many working hours of overtime to ensure patient care didn’t suffer.
On top of this, we were already facing a nursing crisis – too few nurses and midwives for the number of patients requiring our care, and this led to physical and mental exhaustion, which sadly has not improved.
Three years on, we still face a considerable shortfall of nurses, midwives and carers.
Nurse Lifeline emerged during the pandemic as a psychological life-raft for nurses and midwives, providing a listening ear, support and signposting to more specialist services. A service provided for nurses and midwives BY nurses and midwives – colleagues who really DO ‘get it’.
As we move into the winter, we know from experience that the usual pressures on health services will be further compounded with increased hospital admissions due to seasonal illnesses. The pressure on nurses and midwives to provide more and more care, with limited staffing resources is frightening and can lead to burn-out and high levels of stress. This can contribute to poor workplace behaviours – even sadly to bullying - and to depression and a feeling of failure among nurses and midwives.
I planned to retire from nursing three years ago, but I am still here, working full-time most weeks because the job needs to be done, and there are too few other people available to do it. Having colleagues who understand how I feel – especially on days when everything threatens to overwhelm me – makes all the difference. That’s why I joined Nurse Lifeline. I wanted to be able to offer that support and listening ear; empathy and care for my colleagues when they are suffering, depressed, upset, being bullied or mistreated, even feeling suicidal, or just needing someone to off-load to. Together with my Nurse Lifeline colleagues, I volunteer on a regular basis and from the feedback we receive, we can see just how valuable this service is to our callers.
Nurses from any sector, speciality or age can call and are encouraged to contact Nurse Lifeline. We help nurses at the beginning of their careers right through to those retiring after 40 years. Every caller’s circumstances are unique to them and every call is important to us.
I feel that through volunteering at NLL, I am making a real difference to my colleagues in the profession, and I think it is really important for their well-being that I can continue to do this.
Nurse Lifeline is a charity, and they rely on supporters’ generosity to continue delivering their services. So, if you can help by donating, I know that all of my fellow volunteers and those that we support would be so grateful.
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