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College tutor opens up about emotional NHS return

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Education | Published:

A college health and social care tutor has spoken of her emotional experiences on the NHS front line after returning to help the fight against Covid-19.

Elaine Colley

Elaine Colley, who qualified as a nurse in 1995, has been teaching at Telford College for the past 13 years.

But she signed up to join the respiratory ward at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton at the start of the pandemic, and has so far completed around half the 300 hours needed to regain her NHS PIN number.

She said: “Is it difficult, and is it challenging? Yes. Every Thursday I clap for everyone involved in my journey and light a candle for those not with me any more.

“To see the patients arrive from critical care, scared, confused and very anxious, then recover before our eyes has truly been something of a miracle.

“I was able to wheel a female patient out of the ward and deliver her to her husband who had not seen her for seven weeks – this was so emotional for all of us who clapped her off the ward as she was welcomed by her very tearful husband.

“But there have also been sad times where relatives have said their goodbyes to their loved ones. Balancing those days with discharges of good outcomes and the sad ones where deaths have occurred, has at times been difficult.”

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

She added: “On the ward, the one word that always springs to mind is ‘sad’. It has been a very challenging time, but I also feel very privileged to be part of an amazing team.

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“Many of the nurses I am working with have been redeployed from the eye infirmary and the health visiting teams.

“I have therefore been able to teach them basic nursing care skills, such as personal hygiene, mouth care, and importance of nutritional intake, and together we have ensured that during the time the patients spend on the ward they are receiving excellent care.”

Elaine, who will be returning to her Telford College post for the next academic year, said she would not have been able to do the NHS job without the excellent support of her family and work colleagues.

“They have been able to wrap me up with love and wipe my tears away, reminding me why I am doing this.

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“It’s for my students who need to know the challenges nurses face as well as the job satisfaction of caring for poorly patients who are able to go home well.”

Telford College principal Graham Guest said it was ‘humbling and hugely gratifying’ to see colleagues like Elaine stepping forward to make ‘such brave and selfless contributions’.

During her previous nursing career, Elaine worked at hospitals in Wordsley and Wolverhampton in specialist areas such as renal medicine, and cardiothoracic surgery.

She also volunteers for The Silver Line, helping those suffering with loneliness or isolation.

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