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.
Community nurses provide a cradle to grave service and this week we meet the nurses that deal with both ends of the spectrum. In East Riding in Yorkshire Kay is a Community Midwife. Part of a team of four who help over 400 mums through pregnancy, birth and then for up to a fortnight after.
Kay says, “I always wanted to be a community midwife. You do tend to have a tear in your eye every time a baby is born, especially when you see the emotion that goes on around, that is lovely. That is a great part of the job. I think some mums don’t feel it’s necessary to be in hospital when having a baby, they prefer to be in their own environment, and to me it’s very natural.”
When Kay is on call she can expect the phone to ring at any time. In tonight’s episode we follow her at 4am as she goes to the aid of expectant mum, Natalie, whose waters have broken. With the nearest hospital 15 miles away it is the job of Kay and her colleague Jane to help delivery the baby at home, but with Natalie’s husband, children and extended members of their family present they can only hope everything remains calm.
In Somerset District Nurse Iona attends to the needs of the elderly in her area. 72 year old Richard is one of Iona’s younger patients. He lives with his mum Doris, who at 102, is Iona’s oldest patient. Despite that she enjoys putting Iona through her paces with her feisty spirit.
Iona says, “I don’t actually consider anybody old until they’re at least 85… It’s different from being in hospital. We often go in for years and years and years, they’re just much more themselves in their own environment than they would be in a hospital ward.”
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.