"You never know what’s round the corner – and I see lives completely shattered.”
KAREN, Community Nurse for over 30 years.
“It always amazes me how strong patients can be… I hope I’m like that.”
SHONNA, Community Nurse team leader.
‘Nursing The Nation’ follows district nurses on their rounds visiting different homes across the country, creating intimate, affectionate portraits of their diverse patients and their inspiring ability to grasp life in the face of adversity.
There are more than 10,000 district nurses across the country, visiting more than 2 million people every year. For many these are the unsung heroes of the NHS. They develop relationships with patients that can last for years on end, and as they see them in their own homes, they often become a huge part of their lives and cornerstones of the local community.
In episode one, we see some of the older patients on the nurses’ books. We meet Shonna, a district nurse in Bath, whose patients include war veteran Mr Comm. He is registered blind and deaf, and so grateful for the nurses’ visits that he is constantly buying them presents. Shonna says: “I feel honoured to look after Mr Comm. He fought in wars for our country, so I can live the life I have.”
We also meet Karen, a nurse for over 30 years, who treats patients recovering from strokes. Karen explains: “One day people are living the high life and the next day they literally can’t move.” Karen is trying to help Audrey, an 82-year-old grandmother, learn to walk again, after a stroke left her paralysed down her left side. Audrey is determined to get back on her feet: “I know I’m 82, but I think I’m not old enough to go into a home.”
Later episodes take us into different nursing specialities, meeting more inspiring and entertaining patients:
• Patient David has been paralysed from the neck down for twenty years but still lives an active life and holds down a day job.
• Mum-to-be Natalie is desperate to give birth at home and hopes the community midwives will make it possible.
• Young new father Chris is recovering from stomach cancer with the help of the nurses who are helping him through chemotherapy.
• Dennis and Mary whose long marriage is enriched by a shared love of their tandem.
• Patients Doris and Dudley have been happily married for over 55 years and now choose to live in bed and haven’t been downstairs in years