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'Nurses are a very powerful people in a very powerful profession’

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Standing beside Glyn Goodchild, we look at his 55-year long career – complete with its peaks and valleys – from the vantage point of an impending retirement.

“It’s more like leaving a family, there is some bereavement involved,” says Glyn Goodchild, a mental health nurse at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.

At 70 years old, he is due to retire. But retirement for Mr Goodchild does not simply mean leaving behind a rich and multifaceted career, although he is, it also means saying goodbye to his family’s lineage.

“I started nursing when I was 15. My parents worked in a psychiatric ward, so I don’t really know anything other line of work,” he explains.

This is not the first time Mr Goodchild has retired. “I keep retiring, people keeping calling me, and I keep coming back,” he says. Unlike his initial retirement, however, this one rings with a sense of finality: “I’m getting tired,” he says.

As his career winds down, Mr Goodchild has a chance to look back on the highest and the lowest points of his nearly 55-year long career and reflect. On the inception of his career, Mr Goodchild notes, “There was an apprentice scheme, so I stopped going to school and started going to the hospital. I fell into it.”

“I stopped going to school and started going to the hospital. I fell into it”

Later, after qualifying as a mental health nurse, Mr Goodchild worked in a hospital with young people. From there, he moved to the South of Wales and worked with children with autism before taking on a managerial position in Manchester.

“It is challenging but extremely worthwhile,” Mr Goodchild notes about his time working on the wards.“Frequently you get to see someone recover, that’s very rewarding. Sometimes you work with someone for two or three years, and eventually they can help you too.”

When Mr Goodchild decided to stop clinically nursing it was to gain a counseling certificate to enable him to support his NHS employees. He highlights this phase of his career as being one of the most significant in his life. “I certainly learned to sit quietly with people and let them solve their own problems,” he says. “People are marvelous things and I feel very lucky to have been able to know them and see that.”

This vocation was also one of Mr Goodchild’s favourites because it allowed him to help fellow clinical practitioners. “I was able to help people that helped other people, that’s a privilege,” he says . “I loved every minute of it.”

“I felt betrayed by the system, the family I had always worked for”

Around this time, Mr Goodchild retired to be at home with his wife, who was suffering from mental illness. Tragically, she took her own life, marking the lowest and the most difficult part of Mr Goodchild’s own life. Aside from his wife’s death, one of the hardest parts of this period for Mr Goodchild was his changing relationship with the health care system.

“I felt betrayed by the system, the family I had always worked for. I felt like my wife hadn’t been treated properly,” he says. “You never really get over that.”

However, Mr Goodchild responded to this loss, and his feelings of betrayal, by finding his way back to clinical nursing. “I decided to go back and try to improve some of the things that my wife suffered while she was sick,” he says. “I’m very proud that I made my way back.”

In lieu of his retirement at the end of 2016, Mr Goodchild took a moment to ruminate on advice for new nurses.

“They need to realise that they are professional people who have the right to change things,” he notes. “They are a very powerful people in a very powerful profession. They are important individuals that can change people’s lives.”


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