Corby and Kettering community nurse's career inspired by family's cancer heartache

Community nurses care for people across Northamptonshire

Sunday, 12th September 2021, 7:00 am

Graduating as a nurse is an exciting prospect - but beginning a career in healthcare at the start of a pandemic brings a new set of challenges.

Shanice Fletcher was inspired to train as a nurse after two family members were diagnosed with cancer.

And after graduating from the University of Northampton, she now works as a community nursing sister for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT).

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Shanice Fletcher - works in the community

Based in the Corby and Kettering community nurses team, she helps care for people providing support to NHFT with their range of community and mental health services across the area.

Shanice had always wanted to be a nurse, but when her mum and grandad were diagnosed with cancer she was doubly determined to pursue her career dream.

She said: "I didn’t really know anything about community nursing but once I had been on my placements, I realised it was the area for me. Although I also did placements in acute hospital settings, I preferred the community nursing environment.”

As a carer for her mum Shanice attended all her hospital appointments, getting to see first-hand what nursing was like. However, it wasn’t until she was at university that she decided that working in the community was the place for her.

Shanice started her nursing training at the University of Northampton in 2016 when she was 23, and graduated in 2019. She became a community nurse straight afterwards and was promoted to a sister in June 2020.

During the pandemic community nursing has been particularly hard as the service did not stop seeing people face-to-face.

At the start, case loads decreased slightly as people didn’t want at home visits, but from May referrals increased significantly.

Shanice said: “With the Covid restrictions and changes in working practices across many services it did mean an increase in demand and we were seeing more people than normal.

"We were often the only person patients were seeing so we had an important role to play and often had to help older people with video calls using our smart phones.

"This could sometimes be difficult if we had to stay longer or couldn’t make the time. We were stretched at times but the team coped phenomenally well.”

Shanice enjoys the variety of the job too and building relationships with patients.

She said: "In hospital you see patients come and go and there is very little time to develop a relationship with them. Out in the community it is very different as we are seeing people in their home environments, often over long periods of time and we get to know them and their families. I have people still on my case list that I had when I first started.”

Her role involves doing many tasks from taking bloods and wound management to catheter care, palliative care and syringe drivers.

She said: “In this area we see many younger palliative care patients and they can range in age anything from 20 upwards and can have very complex care needs.

"As well as dealing with the clinical side of their condition and ensuring they have the right treatment, I have to deal with the psychological side of their care. For younger people this can mean helping them and their families come to terms with their diagnosis.”

Shanice is currently doing her year-long district nursing qualification which she started in January 2021. Her career aspiration after this is to do her non-medical prescribing course, with the hope of eventually becoming a band seven district nurse.

Shanice added: “Community nursing is immensely rewarding and I’d recommend it to any nurse who wants to work in an environment which is fast-paced and where you can really develop your skills in lots of areas. You can make a big difference to a patient’s life, and we get to build up such a good rapport with patients and their families.

“For younger nurses especially who have just graduated, you can build up your confidence quickly because of the degree of autonomy you get and I think this also gives you the drive to progress. We are happy to push ourselves to learn and it’s great that the trust is fully behind us and encourages us to continue studying so we can progress our careers.”

For career opportunities with Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust visit www.nhft.nhs.uk/jobs for more information.