As a matron my infection control remit goes wider than ward cleanliness, and I work closely with infection control teams and others to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections. As matron’s we are responsible on a daily basis for ensuring that staffing levels are safe and that patient flow is maintained throughout the trust. We do this by ensuring that admissions and discharges take place in a safe and timely manner.
How did you start your career in health?
I started my nursing career on June 2nd 1980 as an Auxiliary Nurse on Ward C3 (acute medicine) at Queens Park Hospital, the ward was in a Part of the hospital that no longer exists (now part of J car park) I worked on the ward for 6 months before I was asked to go to the “Geriatric unit” to help out for 6 months. I moved to the unit which consisted of wards G1,G2,K2 and K1 (day hospital) I stayed there for the next 11 years!!! I loved every minute of it. This was in the days before hoists, when we physically lifted the patients into bed, It was extremely hard work. We got to know the patients and their families very well as they were often there for years at a time. In fact on my wedding day I visited the ward in between the church service and evening reception in order for the patients to see me in my wedding dress! When the first phase of the new Hospital was built in 1992 the unit was closed and the wards moved to the new build. I was moved to ward B4 which at that time was an elderly rehabilitation ward. I always wanted to train as a registered nurse but financially I could not afford to drop to a bursary as I had a young family to support. I stayed there until 2001 when I was able to secure a secondment to complete my nurse training.
How did you reach your current position?
I qualified as a registered nurse in March 2004. Throughout my training I had not decided exactly where I wanted to work but I had by that time been bitten by the surgical bug and knew that I did NOT want to return to a medical ward. Whilst doing a HCA bank shift at Blackburn Royal Infirmary I gained my first experience of working on the ENT/Maxillofacial ward and I knew straight away that I wanted to work there! I secured a role as a band 5 staff nurse on the Head and neck ward (Ward 18 BRI) approximately 18 months later a secondment opportunity arose to take on a temporary band 6 role. At first I was not going to apply as I wasn’t sure that I had enough experience. My ward manager Carol Horne was having none of it! She encouraged me to go for it and I was lucky enough to be successful at interview. After 12 months the role was offered as a permanent one and again I was lucky enough to be appointed. We later moved to Ward B14 in the all-new Royal Blackburn Hospital following the closure of BRI. After 5 years a secondment to a band 7 position on the Surgical Admissions & Discharge Unit came up and once again Carol Horne (who was then my Matron) encouraged me to apply. I was successful and was in this role for the next 14 months. I then returned to my band 6 role on the Head and Neck Ward. After a year or 2 my ward manager was seconded into a different role for 18 months and I was again encouraged to take a secondment to a band 7 position this time in my own area on the Head and Neck ward. I was lucky enough to be successful again and worked in this role for 18 months. Again I then returned to my band 6 role but having “acted up” twice into a band 7 role I now felt as though I needed more of a challenge. An opportunity arose in surgery to apply for the post of Assistant Matron at a band 7. I was successful at interview and entered the role unsure of what I would be doing as this was a new role and had not been done before. I thoroughly enjoyed it. During this time I was introduced to the world of the matrons. I assisted them on all the surgical wards and gained an insight into what their roles entailed. Following this secondment I returned to the Head and Neck ward as a band 6 but after only a few months my ward manager retired and I applied for the permanent post of band 7, again I was successful. This was a short appointment however as a matrons post became available and the surgical matrons encouraged me to apply. Again I was interviewed (3rd time in 18mths!) and offered the permanent matrons post in Orthopaedics I began the role in February 2015.
Who or what has been your inspiration?
I have to say that on a personal level, what spurred me on was the fact that I lost my mother at a young age and I knew that she would have been so proud of me, I would have loved her to have seen me succeed in my role.
My inspiration and driver has to have been Carol Horne, she was an amazing Ward Manager and Matron and always encouraged all her staff to reach their potential. She is a great believer in “giving you your wings and allowing you to fly” and she certainly did that with me! If it hadn’t been for her I would still have been a band 5 staff nurse!
What advice would you give others on reaching their potential or embarking on a career in health?
Definitely go for it! This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! It can be awfully stressful and demanding but the rewarding elements far outweigh those times. Being in a position to share wonderful moments in a person’s life such as the birth of their child (like I did as a student nurse) or comforting someone during difficult times or by letting someone know that they are not alone by holding their hand as they breath their final breath. We as nurses are so privileged and I could not imagine having done anything else with my life!
What does 2020 #YearoftheNurseandMidwife mean to you?
To me this is long overdue recognition of all the nurses past and present, who have dedicated their lives to caring for others with kindness, dignity and compassion.
Favourite quotes of all time
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
“Turn that frown upside down” J