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DEC 11/2020

Working in Blackpool - An interview with agency nurse Brenda Ndebele

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Agency Nurse Brenda tells us why she enjoys picking up block bookings in Blackpool and her experience of working with Medacs Healthcare. 

How long have you been working as an agency nurse? 
I’ve been in nursing for over 12 years and spent the past 7 years doing agency work. I always work with agencies like Medacs that can give me block bookings as I prefer to know when and where I am going to be working and I like the financial security of knowing my bills will be covered.   
 
You’re working regular nights in the A&E department at Blackpool, staying away from your home and family in Luton, how do you manage that and why do you do it?  
I work in Blackpool for 2 weeks at a time and then make the long trip home for an extended weekend with my family. The money I earn helps to support my family, especially my eldest daughter who is studying in London. Working away is also a good thing right now to protect them. I feel more comfortable knowing I am not risking taking COVID home to them every day. I also enjoy working away, meeting new people and exploring new places on my days off. I did it in Cornwall before too. This time I haven’t had much opportunity to see the sights of Blackpool, but I did get some lovely days on the beach in the summer. 
 
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Why do you prefer block bookings, is it just about the financial security? 
No not just that, I feel as though I am part of the team when I work regularly in one place. Working as an agency nurse can be really frustrating sometimes when you can’t get through doors and you have to ask to be let in all the time, I actually have my own door pass now, so I really feel like part of the team. It was difficult to fit in at Blackpool to start with, but I feel like management trust me now, and give me more responsibility because they know what I can do. They always say thank you and tell me how much they appreciate all my hard work. They made sure I got a test when their staff did, and if they weren’t all cancelled due to COVID I’m pretty sure I’d be getting invites to their staff meetings, and the Christmas party!
 
What have your experiences been like in Blackpool’s A&E during the pandemic?
In the beginning it was scary, especially for people with elderly or vulnerable family at home, no-one wanted to go in and attend to COVID patients. It’s better now we’re all a bit more used to it, but balancing safety with your natural instincts as a nurse is hard. I was transferring a patient to MAU who went into cardiac arrest, not just me but everyone around forgot protocol and went straight into doing emergency CPR. Someone shouted at us to gown up and we quickly did, but it takes so long and that’s tough in situations like that. It is hot to work in full PPE, but I prefer it when I’m on isolation wards as it means I am already properly gowned up and ready for anything.
 
How have you found the support you get from Medacs? 
Really good, I’ve had a lot of advice and guidance around safety and a risk assessment. If there are any problems, Sharon is always there for me. When the trust did mask testing and agency nurses weren’t included, I told Sharon and she spoke to the trust and arranged for us to get our own masks, fitted properly and tested. 
Medacs is definitely one of the best nursing agencies to work for, they offer block bookings and really support their nurses. 
 
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