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.
In the second episode in the series, we get a glimpse of physiotherapy at home and cancer treatment away from hospital wards. In Yorkshire, District Nurse Gillian has been working in the local community for over 20 years. Today, she’s been called to see a brand new patient, Christopher, who is juggling first-time fatherhood while recovering from a serious operation.
Five months ago Chris was rushed to hospital with severe stomach pains only for the surgeon to discover a cancerous tumour. Chris is undertaking a four month course of chemotherapy at home. Gillian says, “It’s going to be a very tough few months. You always put yourself in that situation and think, how would I cope with it? He seems to be doing really, really well.”
Meanwhile, in Bath, Physiotherapist Jacqui is working to help a tandem-enthusiast, Mary, overcome a broken ankle – but she and Mary don’t see eye to eye on all her suggestions.
Jacqui is part of a team that look after up to 50 patients at any one time. She says, “Being a physio is very, very varied. I don’t know what to expect from morning till the afternoon. I’m fairly confident about being able to cope with whatever situation comes my way.”
Jacqui has been working with Mary on her ankle for over a month; however Mary’s recovery relies on her using the walking sticks that Jacqui has given her and her desire to be independent means she is reluctant to do so. Jacqui’s challenge is to work with Mary to get her back on her bike with husband Dennis as soon as possible.
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.