Close your eyes and picture a nurse. Go on – it won’t take a second.
What do you see? If Charlotte “Charly” Mead is right, you’ve probably come up with a fairly common image – a nurse, clad in light blue scrubs.
But this depiction of nurses, Charly argues, isn’t entirely correct. And she should know – she is, after all, a nurse herself.
Charly works in ellenor’s Hospice at Home team. Along with her fellow nurses and the student placements she mentors, Charly and her colleagues provide vital care for life-limited patients living in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley– all from the comfort of their own homes.
What Charly doesn’t do is what, she believes, most people think she does. And herein is where most common conceptions of nursing tend to miss the mark.
“When a person is asked about what a nurse does, they’ll probably say that they support their patients on the ground level; that nurses provide medication and assist the doctors.
“But that’s a limiting view of our profession – nursing is actually so much more than that. At ellenor, our nurses work autonomously with GP’s, community nurses and other health care professionals to support people living with a terminal illness, cardiovascular or chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, or patients with learning disabilities.
So why does this narrow view of nursing exist? According to Charly, the portrayal of nurses on popular TV shows is at least partly to blame.
“Think about the nurses you see on TV. Programs never show nurses out in the community. I don’t know if it’s because they think we’re not interesting, or what!”
This depiction of nurses represents a stark disparity – particularly when you consider that, in ellenor’s case, the vast majority of its care (around 95%) takes place in the community. It’s part of ellenor’s commitment to holistic care, and to a ‘good death’: one that allows a person to pass away peacefully, with their family around them, in the place of their choosing.
This could be a hospice. But it could also be at the patient’s own home – allowing them to die with dignity, on their own terms.
Without community nurses – like those that make up ellenor’s Hospice at Home team – life-limited patients wouldn’t have access to care, treatment, and support from their own houses. That’s why it’s so hard to fathom that community nurses like Charly are so frequently overlooked.