Throughout the pandemic staff that could no longer safely carry out their normal roles were redeployed to help out in other areas of the Trust. One such team were the Special Care dental nurses.
The team were asked if they could join the team on the Emergency Admissions Unit at West Cumberland Hospital.
The team of dental nurses are usually based at Cleator Moor health centre and carry out a specialist dental role for children and adults with severe disabilities, a role which can require them to see patients within the community and schools.
Initially the nurses were doing all that they could to support patients over the telephone, advising patients and triaging emergencies, however some of the team described how they ‘felt awful seeing the District nurses carrying on working, going out into the community in such unprecedented times’
As normal dental services were suspended some of the team stayed at the centre to ensure patients were taken care of if they needed dental services, however not all staff were required and were given the choice to stay within the dental service or be redeployed.
Some of the team wanted to get involved and do their bit so jumped at the chance to be redeployed to WCH. This was of course a completely different role to what they are used to and although they found the fast pace and quick turnaround of the EAU daunting they quickly got into the swing of things.
Specialist Dental Nurse, Nicola Ardron described her experience, saying;
“It was quite a shock to the system at first, working to 12 hour shifts, they work incredibly hard on EAU, I’ve learnt so much from the team, especially the Health Care Assistants, I felt I could ask them any questions, they didn’t make me feel silly for asking and really made us feel like we were welcome”
The nurses had training over two days that included, manual handling, tissue viability and basic life training.
Carly Price, specialist dental nurse described how she faced many fears on the ward, explaining:
“I was doing tasks that I had never done before such as washing and dressing patients as well as carrying out skin checks. However we were supported all the time and we were made to feel so welcomed. We really felt like we became part of the team. It has been a great experience and I feel that I have developed not only my skills but my understanding of how other parts of our Trust works. The whole experience has been really beneficial.”
Lisa Bennett, Specialist Dental Nurse said she had even considered a move into adult nursing: “After seeing different ways of working with a great team, and learning new skills I have looked into how I can develop them further and looked into nursing opportunities. I’ve got so much out of the experience.”
The team were welcomed by Sister Nichola Mitchinson who was happy for the extra help in such a difficult time for the ward.
“We were thrilled to welcome the team of dental nurses who decided to join us on EAU, their help and dedication was greatly appreciated in these exceptional circumstances.”
The specialist dental nurses are now returning to their normal roles and although they are happy to be supporting their own patients again, they said they would miss the work on EAU and could only describe their experience as overwhelmingly positive. Laura Wilson, specialist dental nurse said:
“I can only describe my redeployment onto the ward as a positive experience. I feel I have improved and added many different skills that will help me in my career. It was lovely to be so appreciated helping them out under such difficult circumstances.”
Pictured Nicola Ardron, Carly Price and Lisa Bennett