‘The Nurse I Will Never Forget’

Marie Cooper writes about the remarkable impact that one nurse had on her father's care

24 March 2020

Today, more than ever, it is essential that we acknowledge the impact of nurses working in our communities. As we continue to celebrate individuals whose compassion and dedication has impacted us the most, here is a poem written by our Project Lead for Celebrating Palliative Care Nursing, Marie Cooper.

At 6.30 on a busy Tuesday evening
You entered
Quietly through the curtains you smiled and simply said
‘Hello…. I’m Bev, the tissue viability nurse
and I’ve come to see Mr O’ Donoghue’   
And then
You looked at my father and gently approached
You knelt by the bed
With your smile
your eyes  meeting his as he laid on his side
you met him where he was

Then I heard my father’s voice
I heard my fathers’ voice in a way I had not heard for such a long time

I looked upon you both  
in quiet conversation
no one else was required
although he was weak, tired, dying
you gave him the time to find his voice
to feel heard
you stayed with him
following his story of distress and wondering
wondering with him what would  help
together crafting a plan of care

You then invited Michael his nurse and me to come close and join you and we, all together learnt to care in concert.    

Background to the poem

Bev Wilson: ‘The Nurse I Will Never Forget’

In 2010, in the final year of his life, my father had multiple admissions to hospital. On his last admission we were all set to get him home for his last days. As he weighed around 6 stone we were committed to keeping him free for any skin breakdown, hence my request for expert tissue viability advice.

Bev was the expert tissue viability nurse. Although we met only once, she is ‘The Nurse I Will Never Forget’. Her short encounter with my father was such a powerful example of all that is integral to the true excellence of nursing care.

I was so excited and honoured to meet her again after 10 years and to tell her how often I share my experience of that one moment of care, of how I return to that moment to explain to others …this is what authentic nursing care is.

Bev is now a Nurse Consultant Tissue Viability & Lead Nurse Harm Free Care at Queen’s Hospital (Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust).

When we met, I asked her how she maintained her passion and drive. She was so clear about how she sees each patient with fresh eyes. That one must use expert nursing knowledge and skills to assess and to discover how each patient experiences their situation. Only then can you know what you include in a plan of care.

Bev would urge all nurses to be creative in meeting the unique challenges presented by patients with tissue viability needs and to maintain critical curiosity – asking ‘is this care intervention effective, what else could we try?’ For Bev, maintaining dignity, supporting healing and alleviating suffering is the constant challenge and indeed the cornerstone of excellent nursing.        

Thank you Bev.

Find out more about our year of celebrating palliative nursing and our webinar series on Rising to the Challenge in Nursing.

24 March 2020

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