Working alongside family on the front line – A first person account from Ward Leader, Anne Kabia.
“Working alongside my daughter in our ICU meant I could not only see her more, but also learn from her and make sure she was ok.”
Striking and heart-warming words from Day Case Ward Leader, Anne Kabia, who alongside her team, came to the aid of our ICU team during the pandemic to help out when help was needed the very most.
Unusually, Anne got to work alongside her daughter, Leanne, who is an ICU nurse specialising in intensive care. Anne said: “Intensive Care is an entirely different specialty to caring for Day Case patients, so to work alongside my daughter was almost like a reverse mentoring role, where I got to learn from her. I’d never worked in ITU before and she’s worked there for a few years now, so she’s got a lot more experience in that speciality than me.
“It was very special time being able to work alongside Leanne and her colleagues, but I went in there with a bit of hesitation to start with, because I didn’t want to go in saying ‘I’m Leanne’s Mum’ and I didn’t want to step on her toes at all. I kept a bit of a low profile to start with and just went in with the mind-set that I was there as a support nurse and there to help as much as I possibly could.
"Eventually though people would start talking about colleagues and I would start to say ‘oh yes, that’s my daughter’ and it was so nice to hear how well thought of she is and now we have a real rapport with the team and I’m just known as ‘Leanne’s Mum’ which is lovely.
“Colleagues in ITU did an excellent job of trying to mentor nurses, many of who were higher bands than them but with a lot less experience, and still provide the care our patients required. It must have been quite daunting for them so we had some quite good conversations about who we had worked with, what we had learnt and how it had benefitted our teams and us. I know both my daughter and I got quite a lot out of it by sharing expertise and knowledge with each other.
“We didn’t get a lot of time together on shifts, but I did used to ring her for advice and ask what I needed to do in certain situations so that I could support the ICU teams as much as possible. It really helped me talking to Leanne and then passing the information on to my team who were also helping out in ITU, so then I could support them when they needed it too. It was really useful to hear it from an ITU nurse point of view and see and hear what they were going through from their point of view.
“I was also involved in rostering the ITU support team. When people from other areas were calling me and asking me about going on to the ICU roster, it really helped that I had been there and done it and seen it from all angles, so I could advise them on what they needed to do and how they could help, and hopefully put people’s minds at rest.
“Over my time in ICU it became clear that Leanne knew a lot more than me in this totally different speciality, but it was so important that I was able to say ‘I don’t know that’ so that I could help more effectively and having Leanne to answer questions was a brilliant support. I don’t think any of us really realised the responsibility ITU nurses have, it was a real eye opener.
“It has certainly been a learning curve for both of us and we have learnt a lot from each other. A lot of colleagues spoke so warmly about Leanne and I’m so proud of her and to know how supportive she has been. I just hope I didn’t embarrass her too much and that she is as proud of me as I am of her.”
Anne’s daughter, Leanne Dawn enjoyed working with her mum for six months on ITU, caring for some of our sickest patients during a stressful and anxious time.
“Having extra support on ITU was crucial at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ward was over-capacity with poorly patients who needed round-the-clock care, and working in the stressful environment wearing full PPE for 10+ hours really takes its emotional and physical toll.
“When I found out Mum would be coming to support us on ITU, I initially felt a bit nervous and apprehensive as our professional worlds do not usually cross too much in the hospital, aside from the odd lunch together or walk to the car park! Soon after Mum started and we had had a few shifts together, I realised what a wonderful opportunity it was for us to spend more time with each other, doing what we love to do: looking after patients.
“I really valued the time I spent with Mum; she was a brilliant support to me personally and also professionally. It was nice to be able to go through the same experience with someone I knew so well. After a shift together, we would often chat about our day, the highs and the lows, encourage, and spur each other. I’ve worked through one of the biggest pandemics in history, and I am proud to say that we did it together with the support of one another, and our team.”