Veena Singh, 27, is Sister of The Portland’s new Day Case unit. Here she describes a typical working day...
I genuinely love what I do.
You don’t come into nursing for the money or the hours, it has to be a passion, and I was quickly drawn to paediatrics. Seeing a sick child looking better thanks to the care you’ve given them must be the most rewarding feeling in the world.
The Day Case unit opened its doors in December, offering a whole host of new services at The Portland. We treat children from newborn right up to 16 years old, for everything from minor surgeries to MRI scans.
It’s exciting to be working alongside world-class consultants in brand new facilities. I often joke that the only thing that’s old here is me. I started at The Portland as a freshly-qualified nurse six years ago. After three years in the NHS, developing my skills, I returned as a Senior Staff Nurse two years ago before being promoted to Sister.
I’m the motor of the unit, making sure the entire ward runs smoothly. I know memories of going into hospital as a child can stay with you for the rest of your life, so it’s my job to ensure our patients have the best experience possible – from the minute they’re welcomed to The Portland until the moment they leave.
Today most of the children are having Ear Nose and Throat surgical procedures and I start at 9am, checking the patients have all they need and are ready for theatre.
A lot of children are understandably needle-phobic, so we run pre-assessment clinics to introduce them to the hospital with the play specialist, who plays a crucial role in preparing them for what to expect, in child-friendly language.
Late morning, a 12-year old boy comes back from having his adeniods out feeling queasy and coughing up a little blood. Mum is obviously panicked, so the nurses calm her down and explain what’s happening while I settle and observe him. After a good sleep, he’s able to have something to eat and drink and I give mum pain relief advice before letting them go home.
We may see hundreds of surgeries a week, but we never forget that it’s always tough for mums and dads to see their little one undergoing any kind of operation. It’s as important to relax and reassure them as it is the patients; children are very sensitive to their parents’ anxiety.
Nursing is a holistic profession, so my job is as much about offering emotional support and providing physical care. The nurse to patient ratio here is very high, so I relish the chance to develop a real relationship with them.
Some are from overseas, so I try to make sure to answer any questions their families may have, from where they can find food to where they can get their washing done – whatever makes their stay that little bit easier.
The ward gets busy and we can often see 23 patients before I head home at 10pm. As our services expand to include a walk-in, walk-out clinic and an allergy testing service, demand will increase even further.
Even when you have had a very busy shift, you forget it all in a flash when a child turns to say ‘thank you’ as they leave. However tough my day was, I always sleep well knowing I made a real difference to someone else’s.
By Rachel Cocker