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'I wanted a rewarding career caring for others'

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We talk to Helen Shepherd, WellChild complex discharge planning coordinator and lead nurse - children’s continuing care, WellChild and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, who has been a nurse for 14 years.

Helen Shepherd

Helen Shepherd

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

My mum was a home help and I enjoyed running errands for older people and listening to the stories of their younger years. I decided I wanted a rewarding career caring for others.

Where did you train?

I moved from rural Derbyshire to Leeds in 1997 to begin my paediatric nurse training at the University of Leeds. My family wanted to know if I was going to be starring in Jimmy’s.

What was your first job in nursing?

As a neonatal nurse in Bradford, caring for babies who were born withdrawing from substances. I also worked in the neonatal intensive care unit.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

Modesty – I find it difficult to accept positive feedback. I often brush off compliments but am trying to just say “Thank you”.

If you are committed, dedicated and really want to make a difference to someone’s life, keep at it and you will succeed

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

Karen Poole, head of children’s commissioning. She and I work very well together; she trusts my decision making and passion for high-quality care and patient empowerment. She encouraged me to take on the WellChild role, working strategically to develop complex discharge pathways and promote a positive experience for patients.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

If you are committed, dedicated and really want to make a difference to someone’s life, keep at it and you will succeed.

What keeps you awake at night?

My “to do” list and thinking of new ways of working to benefit all patients.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Working with children and young people with complex needs to facilitate a safe, timely discharge home and transition into school. And the smiles on families’ faces when they achieve it after not thinking they would.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Graduating as a children’s nurse.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

More patient involvement and more effective and integrated working across all agencies and organisations, reducing fragmented working.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

Working in my current field but undertaking more strategic work in children’s complex care and continuing to make a positive difference to patients.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

The 6Cs sum it up perfectly.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

Timely discharge planning with appropriate professionals involved soon after admission to plan more effectively and avoiding unnecessary stays when medically fit.  

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Wrapped up warm, walking on the Yorkshire moors with my husband and our springers. Then a pub lunch and a pint.

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Rick Stein. I’d love to have him cook us dinner and be able to discuss our experiences of India. 


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