We talk to Teresa Fendyke, lead nurse/modern matron, Care UK Prison Healthcare, HMP Isle of Wight, who has been a nurse for 18 years.
Why did you become a nurse?
When working as a healthcare assistant, patients would ask me questions and I would have to find a nurse to help. I wanted to be able to answer their questions.
Where did you train?
I was one of the first batch of Project 2000 students at Portsmouth University.
What was your first job?
On the surgical ward at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight.
From whom have you learnt the most in your career?
Patients. When you are working on wards, constant feedback from patients makes you a better, more responsive nurse. Sadly, sometimes what matters to managers is different from what matters to patients. We are lucky here that our management team are committed to patient care.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Make sure your quality counts and focus on good basic care - it is the bedrock of what we do and is what patients count on.
What keeps you awake?
Nothing - nursing is so physically and mentally demanding I sleep like a baby.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Making a difference and getting feedback from patients and families. I worked my way up to being a sister in a ward that carried out major surgery. This changed to emergency surgery, which took me away from getting to know patients, which I missed. I was asked to join the team here to help improve healthcare in the prison. It has taken time, but we have achieved a lot. Inspectors have praised our work and asked for our best practice to be spread across the country.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Getting my degree. I did it later in life with two children and would never have achieved it without the help of my wonderful husband, Norman.
Roles akin to the old enrolled nurse will develop, where people have time to talk to patients, rather than being purely clinical
What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?
The healthcare assistant role will allow roles akin to the old enrolled nurses to develop, where people have time to talk to patients and help them do their hair, rather than being purely clinical. I fear sisters will end up with no patient contact as they get more paperwork.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
I always wanted to be a nurse. However, I see well-groomed women and think it might have been nice to be a beautician so I could look polished.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
The job I’m doing now - I love it. Prisoners, just like everyone else, deserve good healthcare.
What makes a good nurse?
A caring nature and dedication to their patients.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Less politics. Politics leads to care being driven by targets, not quality. Targets can drive up standards but, when they are the most important, they can detract from great care.
What’s your ideal weekend involve?
Quality time with Norman and my 10 grandchildren.
If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?
George Clooney. However, he is just so handsome I think that, for once, I’d be lost for words.