Pippa O'Connor

Case manager with the South Holland Community Team

On a typical day…

A typical day for me involves seeing patients on my caseload, usually those with more complex needs and those that require more multidisciplinary input. I help to ensure the patient receives the right input, at the right time and by the right person. Patient care is where my heart really is and I am never happier than when I am with a patient, solving problems together.

Managing staff and leading my team is also a large part of my work. I get great satisfaction from watching staff members grow and develop new skills and gain confidence in their abilities.

Tell us how you have made a difference as a nurse

One of the most humbling situations I encounter is when I am being trusted with an end of life patient’s care. In those situations, I only have one chance to get it right. I looked after a gentleman who was very anxious and withdrawn throughout his illness. It was incredibly difficult to engage him in his care and he tended to distance himself from his wife and family. He did not want to be away from his wife for more than a few minutes at a time. Throughout his final weeks, I supported them both and involved appropriate agencies as he would allow. Whilst he was able to leave his home, I encouraged him to take his wife out for coffee and cake, for some normality. For a gentleman who wouldn’t normally eat more than a few mouthfuls, he later reported to having had a bacon sandwich, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He died at home several weeks later, surrounded by his wife and family and I was present. He was settled, did not appear in pain and was relaxed in his final hours. His wife told me she was thankful I was there with her and was so appreciative of all my support. I have since seen her out at the local shops and she always says thank you. Nursing really does allow me to make a difference every day.

What inspired you to go into nursing? What would you say to a young person interested in a career in nursing?

I was inspired at the age of about five to be a nurse. I watched Angels, a TV programme set in a hospital, and never looked back. It really is all I have ever wanted to do and 33 years later, I am still as honoured as I was on my first day to be involved in a patient’s care.

Are you involved in any nursing projects/innovations?

Our team is involved in Time to Act, which looks at working differently in community nursing. It is an initiative supporting us in making difficult decisions, challenging staff to be more proactive, ensuring patients receive care at the right time and by the right person. We are looking at planned work, unplanned work and how we can be more proactive. We are trying to support staff to make their own choices and decisions and to become more resilient in our approaches.

Have you won any awards or recognitions for your nursing role?

I have been very fortunate to have been awarded the Queen’s Nurse award title for my contributions to community nursing. This award recognises the high level of patient care and nursing practice that I have and continue to show.

Tell us your funniest work-related story

The funniest, but most scary moment for my parents, was when I was accidentally locked in my room in nurse accommodation. My flat was four floors up, opposite Big Ben. I am very particular about not being late and was not going to be on this day. I climbed out of my window, walked along the ledge to the flat next door at 6:30am, knocked on their window and asked to be let in. The look of surprise on my colleague’s face when she opened the curtains and saw me suspended four floors up was just so memorable. That was dedication!



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