How the work of district nurses is as important as ever

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

They might not work in a hospital, but district nurses like Jo Paterson have been just as reliant on protection and just as willing to confront the risks as their colleagues on the wards.

The patient's front door has become their front line.

Gerald tested positive for Covid-19 while in hospital for an operation. His dressings still need to be changed and unlike my interview, it can't be done from outside.

District nurses like Jo Paterson have been just as willing to confront the risks as their colleagues on the wards. Credit: ITV News

"I think it's marvelous, I can't believe they do it," he told ITV News.

"A lot of people wouldn't do it. They lift you and give you a lot of confidence. If they weren't coming I don't know who would have to come."

The patient's front door has become the district nurse's front line. Credit: ITV News

But Jo says the virus has meant saying goodbye to a lot of patients she'd come to know well.

"We've noticed that a lot of patients have perhaps passed away a lot quicker than what we would have expected them to and that's been really challenging and difficult to manage for our own mental health.

"We end up thinking, 'Did I do everything I should have done?' and yeah we did look after them but every good nurse questions themselves I think."

Nurse Jo is tending to more patients due to the coronavirus. Credit: ITV News

That increase in end of life care has made Jo's day busier as well as harder, carrying out up to 12 visits.

She says masks have hidden the smiles that help patients to feel better though their work is invaluable to those like Helena Cartlidg, who is shielding themselves from the virus.

"If we didn't have them then I'd have to go into hospital and then run the risk of losing my life."

Does Jo think district nurses get enough acknowledgement for the work they do? "I don't think any of us nurses do this job for recognition from the public," she replies.

"I think we do this for our job satisfaction and for our patients. On saying that, it is important that we raise the profile of the district nursing and community nursing because we want nurses out here working with us."

That work, keeping patients out of hospital, has rarely been more important for the communities they care for, and care about.

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