Laura McClintock – WT Nightingales - Laura McClintock - WT Nightingales
Western Trust Nightingales Challenge 2020 Staff Profile: Laura McClintock, Palliative Care Nurse
Tell us about yourself and your work (eg family, job, length of time in post)
My name is Laura McClintock; I am qualified as a nurse 10 years having initially studied law before undertaking my nursing degree. I started off my career in a stroke/elderly, moving to orthopaedics and then general medicine where I developed my passion for palliative care. I then went on to specialise in palliative care, returning to study to complete European certificate in palliative care and then PG Dip Specialist Practise. I have worked both in the community setting and now in the acute hospital setting specialising in this area for around 5 years to date. I have an 8 year old son Harry who keeps me on my toes!
Why did you choose this job?
I choose to specialise in palliative care as anytime I had a patient on my ward with palliative needs that I was caring for, it felt that this was what I had always envisaged nursing to be. A personal experience with a loved one receiving excellent palliative care at the end of their life sealed the deal, I knew this was the speciality for me!
I know it has been a particularly challenging couple of months for all health care workers due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you explain what has changed in your role? What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?
COVID-19 has been immensely challenging for the nursing profession in general. As a team we have had to adapt to new ways of working within a short space of time. Personally I feel that the addition of PPE, distancing and uniform (we usually wear our own clothes) has been challenging for our speciality as ordinarily we deliver personalised, holistic care which includes the patient and family/carer. I find that PPE, although completely essential in the current climate can act as a barrier to communication, which can ultimately affect the nurse-patient relationship. Visiting restrictions have meant that we are seeing less relatives/carers in person, so we have had to adapt how we communicate and inform them.
What the pandemic has demonstrated however is the sheer tenacity and ability of the profession to adapt, no matter what the circumstance; to get the job done for the benefit of our patients.
This is the Year of the Nurse/Midwife and although many plans to celebrate has been significantly curtailed due to COVID – what makes you proud to be playing your role as a nurse/midwife?
This has certainly been an interesting year to be a nurse! The turn of the year seen a resolution to the nursing strikes and before we could get a breath COVID 19 hit. Despite the worries and challenges, I have never been prouder to be a nurse, witnessing the commitment and determination my colleagues have demonstrated throughout these challenges has enhanced my sense of pride in the profession. The support the profession has received from the public this year has also been overwhelming and reassuring.
All health care staff have risen to the challenges faced by this global pandemic. Many traditional services have had to be stopped or done in a different way either via telephone or virtual clinics. Have you experienced this in your role and how do you think this has or hasn’t worked?
Our team quickly had to adapt to a new way of working as when the pandemic began to sweep through the community and hospital locally our team began to quickly deplete. Thankfully, we were well prepared due to excellent leadership and direction. On a temporary basis, we reduced the amount of face to face assessments, increasing telephone reviews and advice, which worked well when it was required. We also rolled We also rolled out a virtual education programme across the trust for our colleagues facing the pandemic which was really well attended and had weekly zoom meetings with various teams to include hospice and community teams.
We have now begun to return to a more ‘normalised’ way of working; however there remain some elements that are adapted whilst things remain uncertain. All in all, I feel that our team response worked well, because all members of the team were committed and prepared to do what it took to get through it. I am personally glad to be seeing most patients face to face again.
Looking forward to the next year or so – what would you like to see achieved in Health and Social Care?
I would like to see the commitment to safe staffing implemented with the nursing voice represented at all stages. Obviously COVID 19 has presented many new challenges and most recently the Health Minister has announced a strategic framework for rebuilding services. Again, I would like to see full engagement with the nursing profession given our key role in these services.
How does your work help in the overall delivery of Health and Social Care services?
As a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care my work crosses various domains, from patient assessment and care, education and liaison work with various services and specialities across tertiaries. Working at specialist level gives the opportunity to shape and impact service delivery locally and regionally which can positively impact on the patient journey.
Please also include any particular personal messages of how you, your colleagues have supported each other during this global health crisis.
There has been a real sense of comradery throughout this crisis, I have seen teams at all levels pull together to support each other, plan and implement change and keep the momentum going. It has been empowering to see what can be achieved in such a short space of time and is a testament to the commitment and leadership of nurses generally.
What advice would you give to the public on how they can help the NHS deal with the ongoing pandemic in the months ahead?
The public have done an outstanding job of following advice to date, they really got behind the message which eased pressures on the NHS somewhat, however, we remain in unchartered territory. There are many challenges and unknowns ahead and we ask that the public continue with their excellent response; follow advice and continue to engage with services as they have done so brilliantly thus far.
Laura is one of 20 nurses and midwives in the Western Trust who are taking part in the Nightingale Challenge. The Nightingale Challenge was launched by Nursing Now – a programme of the Burdett Trust for Nursing, to improve health globally in collaboration with the International Council of Nursing and the World Health Organisation. The Nightingale Challenge asks for every health employer to provide leadership and development training for a group of young nurses and midwives during 2020, the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.