I was really nervous at the start of my community placement with the district nurses as I had heard some horror stories from peers. The night before I could not sleep, I lay in bed with a hot water bottle for hours thinking about the challenges the placement would bring. What kept me awake was that I would have to go visit people I their houses, which I did not feel comfortable doing.
06:30am alarm went off, time to get up, get ready and head out. Once I got to the clinic, I was early so the doors were locked. I ended up standing outside in the freezing cold for 15-20 minutes. Once inside, I went to the reception, they walked me to meet the team I will be working with for the next 12 weeks. Once I entered the district nurses office, the two sisters welcomed me, knew my name which made me think that they were expecting me (brownie point for them). I was given a tour of the office, shown where all the files were kept as I would be expected to get them when they are asked for. I was welcomed to the team, what I really liked about the team was when they said I was welcomed to the tea and coffee, once you are welcomed to their collection of tea you are initiated and part of the family. This made me genuinely smile, I was going to like it here, and the team were all lovely and had a great sense of humour. I waited for the nurse to arrive as she had started at 08:00am and was doing her early visits. Once the nurse arrived, after paper work we headed out to a care home to visit 6 patients at 09:30.
On our way to the residential home, the nurse informed me of the patients we were going to see and what our role was in their care. We got to the home, went upstairs to see our patients. The tasks we were doing were pressure ulcer checks, injections, dressing changes and assessing the overall health of the patients. These tasks took the whole morning. Once we got back in the car, we head back to the office for lunch.
Next at 13:30- the team of 7 district nurses come sit together and discuss the morning visits, they talked about any issues, what afternoon visits are left, new patients, the aim is to update the whole team- all while have a cup of tea and biscuits. After more paperwork, I worked with a different nurse and we went to visit patient homes. What I found strange about these visits was that we had a code to get the key to their house let ourselves in to carry out tasks such as insulin injections. I was astonished; my idea of what I was going to do in community was totally different. After the afternoon visits, back in the office for more paper work. Then home for 17:00.
On my way home, I was thinking WOW! What a great day. You see, I have been on three ward placements all have been busy and hectic. Working with the district nurses allowed me to get to know the patients history, I was able to get a holistic idea of the person’s situation. We were in their home, their private space. Even though we were there for only 15/20minutes, that was probably the only social contact that person got that day. I found myself changing my views about working in the community; I always thought that I’d like to work in ward; fast and busy, lots to do. But now I am not too sure.
So, remember don’t judge a placement before you have met the team and give it a chance.