Our NHS nurse who wasn't ready to retire, in Exeter & East Devon
Originally from Enfield in north London, Vivienne started her career in nursing at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) in the city. As an employee within the research laboratories at the hospital, Vivienne was fast-tracked through the application process. Following three years of training, Vivienne qualified as an SRN (State Registered Nurse, now known as an RGN, or Registered General Nurse), and went on to complete a fourth year of advanced training, with Barts.
This vocation has lead Vivienne into a wealth of different health care settings, as a community nurse, as a team member of the A&E department at Barts (an experience that Vivienne says stays with her, to this day), and most unusually, as an agency SRN where she was responsible for the care of various dignitaries and Royal family members, injured during the conflict of the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980’s. Vivienne recalls, “That was such an interesting time in my career. I met some amazing people. It wasn’t ‘fun’ as it was what would be called acute nursing, but it was really interesting.”
A relocation to Devon meant that Vivienne, her two children and her Mother could enjoy the many perks of intergenerational living, and Vivienne continued her career, working at numerous local hospitals as an agency Nurse. Vivienne recalls that she wanted a change,
“Agency Nursing can be interesting, but it puts you in a constant state of change – I wanted stability, and that’s when I joined a good friend in running an advanced Dementia residential home. By this point, my mother’s health was starting to faulter, so I would work nights knowing that she was safely in bed at home. It suited me, but the circumstances at the home were hard.
We were terribly understaffed and therefore at risk really, but as a team there was no way we would leave our patients, who we really cared for. It was a tough time.”
Fate intervened for Vivienne, as her mother’s health sadly started to deteriorate, leading her to make the decision to resign and dedicate herself to her mother’s care. After 18 months Vivienne lost her dear Mum, and by this point in time her Nursing ‘pin’ (Personal Identification Number) had expired.
Vivienne remembers how she contemplated what the future could hold for her career, saying
Vivienne says that the time spent with her Mum bridged the gap between her nursing care and domiciliary care and Vivienne loves her job, saying “The list of things that I do, and the range of people that I meet, and support is so varied.” When asked if she thinks that those new to care could find the personal nature of some tasks daunting, she has no hesitation in dispelling some common myths, saying “Personal care is no bother. We are trained for it and once you have built that relationship with a client, it is something that you are happy to do as part of your care.”
One particularly poignant moment from her now six-year career with Home Instead, featured a sad occasion where Vivienne found herself supporting a client with the sudden loss of his beloved pet dog, recalling “I happened to be the person that was in the right place at the right time to support our client, and as sad as it was, it was an absolute privilege. As I say, we have time to form wonderful relationships and that moment in particular meant a great deal to me. I felt really fulfilled to be able to help.”
Asked if Vivienne can foresee a time when she may retire soon, she does not hesitate… “My job fits beautifully around my life. I have my morning clients, I then head off to the beach to walk my dog or meet a friend for a coffee, and then I can check back in to work for my teatime visits, picking up extra ones if it suits me. I have made some fantastic relationships with my clients, and the team at the office are just wonderful. Everyone supports one another so well. It’s my perfect job, why would I do anything else? It really doesn’t feel like work to me. It’s keeping me young.”
Vivienne, we look forward to working with you in the years to come, as a highly regarded and very fondly considered member of our professional care team.