Supporting each other in new ways

Angela Cole, Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist, The Royal London Hospital

I have been redeployed before and it was incredibly difficult. It was 15 years ago but I remember then realising how much of a nurse’s life can belong to their work and team.

When the team of paediatric nurses was redeployed to adult intensive care during the Covid 19 pandemic, it was therefore apparent to me that it was essential to ensure they had a link back with the teams that held support networks, friends and colleagues, especially during a time that they had minimal access back in person. I formed a WhatsApp peer support group, consisting of a team of 8 paediatric nurses who were able to message each other anytime. We could then chat and catch up face to face at the end of a shift or in breaks (we were all in the same setting), and between us we checked in 2 or 3 times a week.

The simple art of checking in provided an outlet for debrief, off loading and feeling cared for. Some nurses would be going home to their own thoughts, others to a full house but minimal outsources for debriefing and family scared of being close.

The experience of the positivity of the peer support group ignited in me an interest in clinical supervision that has since become a passion. The timing of the Foundation of Nursing Studies (FoNS) Resilience-based Clinical Supervision (RBCS) programme could not have been better.

The programme was amazing. While I was apprehensive with regards to the virtual learning platform, I need not have been, our programme leader, Giselle, and the group were fabulous and we had bonded by the end of session one.

A lot of the aspects of RBCS have been essential to me during the next Covid 19 wave and my redeployment shifts to adult wards. The techniques and skills of grounding, breathing/mindfulness, recognising the inner critic at play and positive reframing were essential so that I could return home with a less scrambled mind – able to care for my family and return for another shift.

Being a paediatric nurse on an adult Covid ward, I had times of feeling out of my depth and was faced with so many emotions that needed processing to enable me to ‘keep it together’ and be the nurse I wanted to be. I was extremely lucky to have the support of a fellow Barts League of Nurses colleague, Bridget Clapham, who has provided support, mindfulness techniques and also friendship and mentorship during these times. During these shifts I found myself using the techniques that I gained from the FoNS RBCS course and Bridget with both patients and colleagues – we were all in a situation and having conversations that we would not have imagined a year or two ago and needed the mindfulness/grounding and positive reframing to look forward.

Although Covid 19 has provided so many hurdles and barriers to conventional practices, we have also formed networks and new ways of working that will enhance our practice. This, coupled with the skills and theory I gained from the FoNS RBCS programme and Bridget Clapham, have developed a passion in me to influence and support RBCS within everyday nursing practice.

I am very grateful to the Barts League of Nurse for funding my place on the programme – I could not have done it without their support. I am also very grateful to Bridget Clapham and FoNS.

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