Tracy Sharp: Returning to the NHS

Health and Social Care Lecturer Tracy Sharp returned to the NHS on Sunday May 17 to help with the pressure that COVID-19 has out on our health service. Here Tracy tells us about what it’s like returning to her old profession at such a difficult time.

I completed my first shift at St John’s on May 17. I’m now going every Sunday as I’m still full-time with college work during the week which seems daunting but I feel it needs to be done. I’ll be in the COVID wards and have to wear the PPE. It definitely makes things more difficult wearing the PPE, especially the masks as they can get quite painful. It’s awful to wear, uncomfortable and really interferes with communication. Many patients had hearing issues and some are dealing with Alzheimer’s too so it makes it especially difficult to talk to them.

Lecturing and nursing together

Although I left nursing as a full time career I have always kept my finger on the pulse so to speak, I joined the NHS nurse bank and work as a nurse from time to time. I always felt if I was teaching a classroom of students it was important that I remain abreast of the latest health and social care issues. What better way to do this than to remain in practice.

Juggling my lecturing and nursing is a bit crazy! As the Lecturing it’s tricky managing students without being in class to support them. I also work as an SVQ Assessor and there’s lots of work required to support the students with their work. I can’t say I’m finding Teams and/or Zoom ideal for teaching as I find I can’t get my point across very well using that means of communication. However telephone and emails are what works for me and the students I support so sticking with that.

What I’ve found so far is that the main thing they crave is sweets, juice and crisps! Helping them keep in touch with relatives via IPads and phone calls is proving vital too for their wellbeing and that of their relatives. The wards have lots of toiletries as lots of donations have come flooding in there’s a Sainsbury voucher scheme which helps get the patients some necessities when they’ve no relatives to bring in anything.

Family concerns

My husband is currently on furlough and I think this has made him notice how much work I do! He’s getting exasperated that I’m constantly glued to my laptop or talking to students on the phone. He sent me an email once as he felt he’d get my attention better that way even though he was only two feet away from where I was working!

He is worried about my returning to NHS and to the COVID wards at that. He wants me to stay at home and not risk my health and/or his and my son. In saying all that he supports me as knows that when my mind is made up that’s it as no point arguing.

My son is very anxious and concerned about my return to practice. He has Autism and I think the current situation is causing him additional worries but he’s fine as long as I’m there to provide reassurance and guidance. My husband has to take my place in this matter when I’m in the wards. I can see him visibly relax when I return home in one piece though.

My sister in laws are both in health care. One is working in a Care Home and the other District Nursing. Both have very scary tales to tell and one contracted COVID-19 whilst at work. She’s on a phased return at present after taking 3 weeks to recover. I worry now for my other sister in law, as the Care Homes are a huge concern. 

When the Coronavirus Pandemic happened I was eager to return to the wards especially since I specialise in Palliative Care and End of Life nursing. I felt these skills could be used in the community and the wards, as I thought there would be a huge call for help in this area. I just hope I can be of some help.

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