22/03/2021 | Press releases

‘Critical care couldn’t be more different’ say children’s nurses

Two children’s nurses who have been working in the adult intensive therapy unit through the pandemic say the experience has been completely different from their usual nursing shifts.

Fourteen children’s nurses from Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals have been working on critical care wards since the beginning of January to help with the additional pressure in those areas. Two of the team, Lois Bemrose, based at Colchester Hospital, and Alice Nash, based at Ipswich Hospital, said it’s been a really interesting learning curve and meant a very different working day.

“For a start the patients don’t want to run away from you when you go to give them an injection,” said Lois. “With children, a lot of reasons they come to hospital are for broken bones, asthma or breathing problems, appendicitis, bronchiolitis or feeding issues with babies. Obviously with ITU it’s very different and most patients in ITU are sedated and don’t have anyone with them.

Medication, patient checks, paperwork and the equipment are all different between the areas the two nurses said.

Alice Nash, children's nurse Ipswich

Alice Nash, paediatric high dependency coordinator

Alice Nash, who works as a paediatric high dependency coordinator, is familiar with children who have serious conditions, but said it’s different caring for an adult. “We’re not used to using ventilators in paediatrics, which has been new, and even the physical size of the patient in ITU is different so takes a lot more staff to move somebody.”

Alice and Lois said it’s been a “massive challenge”, but they were keen to be redeployed, not only to help during the crisis, but also as it would serve as a learning opportunity and develop their skills.

Lois Bemrose, children's nurse

Lois Bemrose, children’s staff nurse and paediatric diabetes team member, photo taken prior to pandemic

Lois Bemrose, children’s staff nurse and paediatric diabetes team member, said: “I thought it would be a good chance to learn some new skills and I’ve done that.

“My day in ITU includes a lot of bedside safety checks, checking emergency equipment, making sure airways and breathing is as expected. We’re checking blood gas from the patient’s arterial line and running machine checks regularly.”

Alice added: “I have far more confidence in managing a patient’s airway now. It’s also been very different communicating with family members. With children they have their family there, but with people on ITU at the moment they don’t, so I’ve had to adapt the way and how I communicate to a loved one.”

Although it’s been outside of the nurses’ comfort zone, they said they’ve enjoyed the experience and different working environment.

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