We talk to Lorraine Burgess, Macmillan Cancer Support dementia nurse consultant at The Christie Foundation Trust, who has been a qualified nurse since 1982.
Why did you become a nurse?
I was a domestic on a hospital ward when I was 18 years old; the nurses said I had a nice attitude with the patients and encouraged me to go into the profession. Four years later I decided to give it a go.
Where did you train?
At Stepping Hill Hospital as a general state enrolled nurse in 1980. In 1992 I retrained as a registered mental health nurse, again at Stepping Hill/University of Manchester, as I wanted to develop my understanding of older people’s mental health needs.
What was your first job?
As a general nurse I worked at St Thomas’ Hospital, Stockport. It specialised in older people’s care. Back then they had continuing care wards and staff chose to work in this area, which was reflected in the care. You tended to know everything about your patients, which was so important in caring for them and understanding their needs.
No matter how high you aim or how well you do, never forget why you came into nursing and stay grounded
From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?
When I first qualified as an RMN my ward manager was excellent. He was person-centred, not only with patients and their families but also with staff. He supported and respected them all, listened to their concerns and involved them. To me that was a good manager and I always aspired to be like him. But, I have learnt most from all the patients and carers I have worked with - they are, after all, the experts.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Nursing is a rewarding job but it is not an easy one and involves dedication, compassion, commitment and hard work. No matter how high you aim or how well you do, never forget why you came into nursing and stay grounded.
What keeps you awake?
My husband’s snoring. That aside, my thoughts - I have a creative mind and my best ideas seem to come early in the morning. I then can’t get back to sleep as I get excited and start to plan how to put them into action.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Winning the Nursing Times Nurse of the Year Award. Who would have thought when I came into nursing that I would have received that?
What is likely to change in nursing in the next decade?
I would like to see an emphasis on more collaborative working in health, social care and third sector services to enhance care and wellbeing.
What makes a good nurse?
Listening to patients and their families, being there for them and acting on their concerns. It is about respecting them, showing them you care, keeping them up to date, putting yourself in their shoes and recognising their needs.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
For people to talk to each other. Joint working and collaboration - we don’t do it enough.
What is your ideal weekend?
Relaxing with my family, then going to see a good comedy act. Laughter is so important for the heart and soul.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
Prince Harry. He appears to be fun loving, adventurous, courageous, grounded and also empathetic to the plight of others. All the virtues I like.