“Working during the pandemic gave me especially a sense of purpose. As a key worker, you knew you were doing your part to help the whole nation really get over this awful time”
Q1: What is your story? Please, tell us a bit more about the work you do?
I work as a critical care staff nurse at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Gateshead, I qualified as a nurse in 2008 and have worked in critical care since 2010. Graeme is a watch manager within the fire service, he joined as a firefighter in 2007 and was promoted last year and now works in our local fire station in Hebburn (luckily only 5 minutes from our house).
Q2: What were the main challenges that you & your family faced during the pandemic?
The main challenges I faced, like most critical care nurses, had to do with the increase in patients needing life support within the hospital, which made our already 12 hours shifts a lot busier. That and the full PPE we had to wear all day was truly awful (it's what I fear most about a second wave). The PPE makes an already mentally challenging job physically challenging as well.
The challenges Graeme faced with work had to do with his daily duties involving fire prevention education & safety. Because of lockdown regulations this work couldn’t really go ahead. Also the daily risk of attending emergency situations with an unknown COVID status.
The challenges we faced as a family were mainly relating to childcare. Phoebe is 7 and in school and Matilda is 3 (she's just started nursery in September). I work 3 days per week and Graeme works 4 days a week so we try and work opposite shifts but sometimes these overlap and my mother would help with childcare. However, lockdown restrictions prevented this so I had to change my shifts to work mainly night shifts (which can be tough after a few weeks - especially during sunny lockdown with people at home and in the gardens during the day). Phoebe went back to school in early May which was a difficult decision to make as you were made to feel that home is the safest place for them, but we had to work - we were lucky that her school was incredibly supportive of the fact I and Graeme were both key workers.
Most nurses had the fear of “bringing the virus home” I can honestly say this didn't worry me too much. I've looked after patients with multiple bugs/viruses over the years and never passed anything on to family members.
I do realise I was very lucky to have access to full PPE at all times and always felt safe at work. That and stripping my clothes off at the front door and going straight for a hot shower became the norm for months.
Q2: What are the things you are most grateful for having been working as a key worker during the pandemic?
Working during the pandemic gave me especially a sense of purpose. As a key worker, you knew you were doing your part to help the whole nation really get over this awful time. It also kept me in touch with what was really going on. I didn't rely on false or unrealistic information on social media, I knew what was happening in my local area in real-time. Also seeing my wonderful colleagues that “keep calm carry on” really goes a long way. The appreciation of everyone for what you were doing, from my parents who told me every day how much they loved me and how proud they were, to my lovely neighbours & the general public during clap for carers and extra treats to take into work.
Q4: Tell us a little bit more about your experience with Newborn Born Story. Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?
Newborn Story Photography captured Matilda’s newborn pictures when she was only 8 days old. I loved how the shoot wasn't just about this tiny new baby but Phoebe (who was 4 at the time) being a big sister and us as a family. We were encouraged to have our photos taken together (not something you want to think about 8 days after giving birth) but that picture of the four of us “team taylor'' as we refer to yourself as is proudly displayed on our bedroom wall. The new photographs are just as beautiful and truly reflect how far we’ve come especially in the last 6 months to make our team stronger than ever.