In this story: COVID-19 /

Jackie shares her story on her work at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow during the pandemic.

“March 2020 is a time where none of us will forget. The fear, the anxiety and the isolation will be feelings that most of us would recognise of that time. In the inpatient unit of the hospice, we knew it was business as usual, patients with life limiting conditions still needed and deserved the highest standard of care.

Most of our extended work family consisting of office staff, artists, counsellors etc were all sent home to work, some of our inpatient unit staff were shielding. At the time we likened it to the titanic and we were hoping we were not going down. Normally the hospice would be a buzz of activity it very quickly went silent.

PPE-personal protective equipment was a huge adjustment at first. The thought of masks for a 12-hour shift was scary, gowns, face shields it all felt alien for us…. Then we saw fellow nurses in ITU in the newspapers, in the PPE that they had to wear then I felt guilty. People were so generous at that time donating face shields, masks, lovely knitted and sewn hearts for us to give to our patients and families. We were so grateful people were thinking of us.

Everyday tasks became a frightening experience. I am the main carer for my parents Joan and Jim, my only sibling James lives in Hamilton. We are all very close. In order to keep them safe, I did their shopping and any errands needed at the time. At first, I stayed away with fear in case I passed COVID-19 on. The saddest I felt at that time was my mum coming to the window to wave to me. I saw my dad the days I was working only to drop my dog Rosie off, socially distanced of course. Then the news of single people could become a bubble with family members. It was the best news. I will never take my family for granted again.

In work we tried to make light of the situation and there was always chat of who was watching what and the recommendations were aplenty. We have a staff WhatsApp which we used for updates whether that be changes to PPE, visiting rules or just general updates. At times there was general chat and banter which was welcomed.

I am extremely proud of our team; we have adjusted every aspect of our personal lives and professional lives to ensure our patients were cared for. Those who lived alone like me, took comfort in coming to work and having people to talk and laugh with. I had to keep myself safe to ensure my patients and my parents were safe, I just could not risk contracting COVID-19 and passing it on.

I am proud of myself as I completed both a leadership course and passed a postgraduate module through the pandemic alongside working full time.

Now nearly 18 months on, it remains scary and feels never ending. I feel very passionate about mental health issues and at times I have struggled myself, everyone is exhausted and fed up but putting brave faces on as our patients need us. My hope going forward is for us to be able to have team building days and reward ourselves for sticking together and getting through a very challenging time.”

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