International Nurses Day – Delilah Rooney

12 May, 2021

Delilah Rooney – Stoma Care Nurse Specialist – talks about nursing during the pandemic.

My name is Delilah and I am one of three stoma care nurses currently working at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston trust.

Before becoming a stoma care nurse I worked as a wound care nurse; although I loved this job, I always felt that I wanted a role in nursing where I could build more long term relationships with my patients. In wound care you often only get to meet people once for assessment; when the job came up for the stoma care department I jumped at the chance to move to the team as I knew that this was an area where you really got to know your patient group. That was just over three years ago now and I haven’t looked back.

I think the role of a stoma care nurse is about providing the ostomate with the support to live as full a life as they possibly can. This of course includes practical support around management of the stoma alongside problem solving, but it is also crucial for us to provide the psychological support that is so essential on the patient journey. This role truly is a privilege; it is so rewarding to see people living busy and complicated lives with their stoma. As my colleague Natasha always says, it is a bag for living, not just for life. I particularly like how so much of our job is working in collaboration with the patients, and how vocal and proactive the ostomate community are.

I was briefly moved to work on intensive care at the beginning of the pandemic last year- this felt really scary as it had been some years since I had last worked there, but the team there were really supportive of me. Luckily this was only for a short period, but it made me really appreciate how much I love my current role as a stoma care nurse. It also reminded me how brilliant our intensive care teams around the country are too!

The covid-19 pandemic has been really tough for everyone, but especially for our more vulnerable patients who have spent much of the year shielding. We have tried to maintain as much contact with our patients as possible, although lots of this has moved to telephone or video support which will never feel the same as face to face care to us. That being said, we are increasing our home visiting service, which for many patients is so much easier. Often people feel more relaxed in their homes, so appointments like pre-operative consultations can feel less formal and scary. Video and telephone consultations can also really suit some people’s lifestyle, so we will definitely be continuing to offer these to our patients, alongside clinics.

Covid-19 has also changed the support available for ostomates from the brilliant charities and patient groups that would normally be face to face (a big shout out to our local patient support group BOSS who do such a brilliant job in our area). I know much of the support is still available remotely, but I can’t wait until we can return to meeting up in person, and for the usual events to begin again as they are such essential resources for ostomates.

We appreciate that you may worry that your local stoma care team are busy, and this might stop you from making contact with them about issues you might be having. It is still really important that you seek help if you are having problems, and hopefully we can look forward to a more ‘normal’ 2021 and beyond wherever you are based.

This year has made us all appreciate the little things we used to take for granted; for me as a stoma care nurse those are things like being able to hold the hand of someone struggling in clinic, being able to share a proper smile with a patient without my mask on, and providing our annual open day where we can engage with our wonderful local group of ostomates. I’m very much looking forward to those things happening again soon. I think being a stoma care nurse is the best job there is, as I’m sure all my colleagues up and down the country agree.

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