Sue Kinsella is Head of Nursing Services at FSB Care. Sue joined the team in 2008 after a 27 year career with the NHS.
Sue is passionate about nursing and the difference it can make in people’s lives and enjoys the fact she can do this as part of the FSB Care team.
When not working, Sue loves to curl up with a good book or pound the streets as a keen runner.
Sue, talk us through an average day at FSB Care.
With an obligatory cup of tea in hand, we always start the day with a team meeting to discuss any issues that may have arisen the previous day.
It’s important that everyone is alert to significant changes in all patients – particularly if our nurses identify any people we support as ‘high risk’ who may be at risk of harm to themselves or others. The safety of our patients, carers and the public in relation to suicide, self-harm and vulnerability is paramount. We undertake risk assessments and document and communicate any care management, engaging and collaborating with patients, other health care professionals and carers as required.
Although we primarily offer telephone based support, we do often get emails from our patients, so we’re very mindful to ensure we respond as quickly as we can. We’re also looking out for replies from a range of therapists that we refer to, as well as responses to any enquiries that we have made in relation to sourcing additional services and support groups that may be available to our patients.
Following the team meeting, I pick up my new referrals and check their diagnoses looking carefully at each case to see if there are any that are particularly complex cases that require additional research.
I start to telephone my patients after around 10.00am - keeping diary records of each client, discussions and outcomes as I go. patients are always surprised and pleased
to know that they will speak to me – their own dedicated personal nurse each time, and that my support is ongoing.
How do you structure your day?
I do tend to start with a schedule but I have to be very flexible as patients;often phone in too, which means my best laid plans don’t always work out.
I take the time to listen to any worries and concerns, talk to people about what they’re going through, answer any questions to help them understand their diagnosis and discuss any treatment options. The calls can be as little as a few minutes, for example, if people just have some simple questions about their treatment, or a lot longer if they just really need someone to talk to.
In a world that is so busy and always-on, you can’t underestimate the value of giving someone time.
What kind of conditions do you help people with?
One of my patients today is a gentleman nearing retirement who had purchased income protection via his adviser, prior to receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve spoken to him on other occasions but today he was interested in finding out about support groups in his local area. I researched the Parkinson’s Disease Society and put him in touch with a support group local to him.
He is very grateful for the ongoing support he’s received via his insurance and very pleased his adviser recommended a policy which included an excellent support service. With the support provided by us, he’s dealing well with his diagnosis and looking forward to his forthcoming retirement.
A young client is referred by his group critical illness provider because he has had a stroke and been left feeling vulnerable and lonely - he feels that he is too young to have had a stroke and therefore it’s difficult for friends and family to understand what he’s going through.
I explained that there is a charity called Different Strokes that supports young stroke victims, and after doing some research, ascertained that there was a group fairly nearby that he could go along to. He was very grateful for the information and felt it would help him become more positive. Mental health issues often arise from physical illness, so I’m so pleased this young man was receptive to my support.
Getting support from both us and the specific charity is helping his recovery and rehabilitation. It is building his confidence in returning to his normal life including work.
Another of my patients is ex-military and whose wife died last year. Although he is financially stable, having received a payout via his wife’s individual life insurance policy, he is in need of emotional support during this difficult time. He’s been left with two small children and is struggling to cope.
As often happens in bereavement, he has anger issues which are exacerbated by unresolved Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following his deployment to Northern Ireland as well as Afghanistan.
Too unwell to investigate himself, I mention the Combat Stress Charity to him and agree to do some research to see if they could support him. Following several phone calls, they sent me a referral and registration form and explained that a welfare ex-services officer would visit him following the referral to assess his needs and provide the appropriate services for him.
He was delighted with this outcome and said that in his current state of mind, he wouldn’t have been capable of finding this information out for himself. In my experience, providing support over the telephone allows many people to feel more comfortable than they might if they were expected to attend a meeting in person or a video call.
They often open up more because they don’t feel they are being judged – and it really doesn’t matter whether they’re still in bed or in their dressing gown!
How do you manage the stress of what must be at times a demanding job?
Being a personal nurse is a very privileged position, but it’s not without its challenges as it can be emotionally draining. On a break in my schedule, I can see that a colleague has just come off a long and emotional call, so I make sure she knows that I am available if she needs a chance to offload and explore further ways that we can help her client.
FSB Care acknowledges and appreciates how much we invest in the people we support and encourages us to access time out. In the late afternoon, I’m booked in for a reflexology session – my second of four provided by the company - which helps me to unwind and renew my energy for the following day.
Before I head home I ensure all my paperwork is up to date and that any changes in patients have been communicated to the correct parties. I also put together a possible schedule for tomorrow, knowing full well I can’t entirely know what the day will hold!
Reflecting on the day, I feel that I made a real difference to the lives of the people I spoke to - many of whom are currently too vulnerable or preoccupied to be able to do any significant research for extra support themselves. It is often the way that previously very capable individuals are absolutely incapacitated by an illness, family death or trauma, and whilst their immediate needs such as treatment and medication may be met elsewhere, their emotional needs can be very consuming and long term and inhibit overall recovery.