Lisa Livingston

BA Nursing 2010

Senior Theatre Practitioner
Homerton University Hospital NHS foundation Trust, London
 

Lisa Livingston 680

Tell us in more detail what your role entails, what challenges you currently face, and how you are finding ways to cope.

I moved to London and have been working at my current trust for the last 7 years. I completed my Mentorship in Nursing Course at London City University and also completed a Theatre Nursing course at Kings College London where my final essay was focused on Scrub Practitioners list of Non-technical Skills (SPLINTS). 

My Role has significantly changed since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. My trust drew up a plan to increase capacity for Covid-19 patients and especially provisions for expanding ITU. This had a knock on effect on the theatre department as the trust made the decision early to cancel all non essential surgery and convert the main theatre suite into a makeshift ITU and use our day stay unit as our Urgent and emergency theatre department. As it stands the only working Theatres in the Main Theatre Department is Obstetrics and we are working closely with Delivery Suite to recover those patients in their unit as Theatre Recovery is also being utilised by ITU. Things escalated very quickly and my trust is not only struggling with capacity but staffing. A significant proportion of the workforce are unable to work due to being trapped abroad, underlying health issues, contracting the virus or self isolation due to symptoms. Theatre staff are being upskilled on the job to assist the ITU nurses who are sometimes looking after up to 3 patients at a time. We are struggling to replenish stock quick enough for our needs and are having to improvise to provide the best and safest care. I now divide my time between assisting and learning from an ITU nurse in the room looking after 3 patients in full PPE, co-ordinating runners along the theatre corridors to ensure that essential tasks are carried out and staff within the rooms are supported and Scrubbing for Urgent surgical cases including Cancer, emergency surgery, Caesarean Sections and Covid-19 surgeries. I have increased my working hours to help out in this time as I feel it is my duty as an able bodied nurse to help in any way I can. This time has been hectic and I have learned a lot and will continue to keep learning and striving to be better. All my colleagues within the trust continue to impress me daily but you can see on their faces the distress, strain and burden that all this is having on them from the most senior Doctors right down to the cleaners and porters. Within my trust we actively encourage staff to check up on each other whether you know each other or not. We take a minute to stop and ask "how are you?" and let them know that we are here for each other even if it is just a rant. I have some colleagues that are on 12 week isolation due to underlying health conditions and they are finding it equally hard being stuck at home unable to help. I have found speaking to these colleagues particularly helpful as they are not under the same strain as colleagues at work and unlike friends and family they understand what you are going through and can offer advice and let you rant. 

With regards to my friends and family they have been fantastic. They constantly check up on me and send me messages of encouragement as well as random messages just to cheer me up. They are also great at slagging me rotten every chance they get about my new fashion statement in full PPE and the lovely indentation pics I've sent post PPE. They talk me through the breakdowns I have when I have a bad day or I doubt myself or worry about my colleagues or I worry about the future. My mum checks to make sure I have enough food, hydration, rest, destressing and a good moisturising routine. I also make a deal with myself that I am allowed to indulge in the news for 1 hour on my day off and the rest of the time is spent watching rubbish tv and catching up with friends and family. For me I find solace in art. 

The general public, apart from a select few, have been amazing. There is a support network called meals for the NHS and daily insulated boxes arrive full of warm nutritional food for us to consume on our limited breaks. I cannot thank the donors and restaurants enough for providing us comfort in the form of food and drinks. We have even been so lucky as to receive donations of a bottle of beer to take home, free coffee and plenty of fresh water. All this boosts staff morale and keeps us healthy and hydrated and sharp.

Do you have a top tip for coping at a time of crisis? Or a few words of advice or support for fellow students and alumni on the front line?

I guess a coping tip I would give students and fellow alumni at a time like this is look after each other. Don’t be ashamed to find small pockets of happiness amongst all the mayhem. Make plans for the future. Don’t get too hung up on news and propaganda. Remember that what you are doing matters, everyone plays their part big and small. 

Thank you GCU for your training and dedication. I look forward to hearing how my fellow alumni’s are getting on.