I have been trying to write this blog for some weeks now, I have made copious notes and voice memos to myself, I have written it and re written it in my head over and over but not only I have I been unable to find the right words I have not been able to find the time or the headspace to put pen to paper. Today is different …… yesterday I had a “quiet shift” and today and tomorrow and the day after, having spent some 3 weeks in clinical practice in a care home with not very much downtime, I have some days away from my clinical work. Today I feel able to breathe, today I feel able to switch off, in the back of my mind I still feel that there is more to come but for now I feel I can gather my thoughts and reflect. Today is like I have stepped into the eye of the storm, all is quiet and calm however there is more turbulent weather within arms reach.
Over the past few weeks I have returned to clinical practice in a local care home. The care home is one that I have a longstanding connection with, it’s an amazing place, it’s vibrant and welcoming and always full of people and brimming with life and joy. I think that in some ways the busy-ness and vibrancy of the care home has been it’s undoing of late, as with so many people coming and going and it being such a huge part of the local community it’s not difficult to understand how Covid19 struck so hard and fast. On the first day that I turned up for a clinical shift there were a number of nurses and care staff down due to Covid19 and good amount of the people we care for were either suspected or confirmed as having Covid19. One of the first things that struck me was the sense that the light of the care home had gone out – there were no people, everyone was in their own rooms, usually cheery staff were flat out and stressed out and the whole home had gone silent. I came home after my first shift and cried.
Something that I learnt quite quickly is that nursing during Covid19 is a very different sort of nursing. There are no words that I can write that can truly do this way of nursing justice. I have felt totally bereft following and during some shifts, the emotional and physical toll that this way of nursing takes is immense. I recall one shift where a fellow nurse and I just stood with our heads in our hands and cried, then we both looked at eachother and in silent agreement decided to put those feelings to one side and keep going. In the space of a a few weeks 15 people died – we sat with and cried for each one of those people. We were with them when their families couldn’t be. We have had to break bad news to relatives and loved ones over and over. And rumbling underneath all of this is the underlying anxiety that you will take this virus home to your loved ones and that you could succumb to Covid19 yourself.
It’s important to remember that where there is dark there is often also light … and there are so many things that i have been thankful for over the last few weeks:
- The nice weather was a real boost and we were able to use that to our advantage and facilitate a garden based visit from a relative of a lady whose husband who had died (at a social distance of course!)
- The ancillary staff who have kept our PPE supplies topped up, and been extremely creative about sourcing PPE!
- The random acts of kindness from the community have been overwhelming, cakes, laundry bags, hats, rainbows, pictures, letters have all meant so much and have been bright lights in the dark moments.
- Most importantly I am thankful to the team, each person has stepped up and shined and as a result we have kept so many people safe and now there are people who we have cared for in the home who have come through and survived Covid19…. they are better!
- Finally I am thankful for this time of calm, if we are in the eye of the storm and there is more to come then this time to rest and time to think and to reflect will help me to keep going.
Yesterday was a good shift, no one died, no one cried. Yesterday I saw that the light in the care home had not gone out, it was there it just needs a little time and care to help it burn bright again. Yesterday was a good day … so today I have hope.