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Stepping out with a Stoma Care Nurse

Meet Breege, our walking warrior

Congestion, parking charges and one of the World’s largest cities... how do you battle with everything London can throw at you and still see your patients? Lace up your walking boots, strap on your backpack and walk through our capital. Just an average day for Salts Medilink Community Stoma Care Nurse*, Breege O ’Neill...

Breege mostly covers the areas of Camden and Islington. Some patches are very wealthy, others not so. After a decade as a Community Nurse, Breege knows how to provide the best service in a busy city where travel can be a lottery. She groups her patient visits into those best reached by car and those, in the heart of the city, by foot. That way she not only maximises her number of visits; but also the time spent with patients.

“London is a vibrant city but it also can be a bit of a beast. Public transport, traffic congestion, finding a car parking space... all these can contribute to me being late and stressed,” Breege says. “I want to be in the right frame of mind when I see my patients and walking not only allows me to be in control of time, but it’s also healthier for me and for the city because I am one less vehicle on the road.”

A typical day includes a maximum of five visits. Breege’s backpack is full of what she calls her ‘tricks and problem solvers’. She said: “Even if I had a car I wouldn’t be able to carry everything so I have things to help with sore skin, a selection of accessories and items to help with leaks. I have my laptop to check files, a bottle of water and my phone.”

Every night, she saves patients’ postcodes in Google Maps and checks the weather forecast so she’s fully prepared for the day ahead. “The beauty is I can work on the train beforehand, attend to my patients’ needs, then write up my notes on the way home. It really is a very productive method. I’ve learnt a few tricks over the years. I have a portable battery pack, layers of clothing - as it can get hot walking around - and of course, with the British weather, I have a waterproof.”

We followed Breege on a typical day to see what it’s like to be a Community Stoma Care Nurse on foot. During our time with her she visited Josephina in Bloomsbury and Peter in Islington. With annual reviews due, Breege assessed their fit, skin condition and general health. Both Josephina and Peter were doing very well and, with a few pointers, Breege was happy to sign them off for another year.

As we waved her off on her travels, with already 12,000 steps registered on her pedometer, we realised what it must be like to cover multiple miles on foot every day. It makes such sense to operate like this and yet again, we’re humbled to see another nurse dedicated to providing patients with a superb service.

*Salts Medilink Stoma Nurse Service is available in parts of England. To find out if there is a nurse in your area, visit www.saltsmedilink.co.uk/Community-Stoma-Nurses

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