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'Never lose sight of the individual at the centre of the care you are giving'

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We talk to Jane Leyshon, community matron at Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, and freelance trainer for Education for Health, who has been a nurse for 37 years.

Why did you become a nurse?

There was no big decision. I simply can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a nurse.

Where did you train?

When I left school in 1975 at 17 it was still possible to start orthopaedic nursing before general training so I went first to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore then to Guy’s Hospital in 1977 for general training.

What was your first job?

My first post was on a rheumatology ward in Reading but I always knew that I wanted to work in the community so within 18 months of qualifying, I had left to start district nursing.

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

I like to reflect on and weigh up decisions and this can be seen as a reluctance to commit or indecisiveness.

From whom have you learnt most in your nursing career?

The patients and their families because they are the people who know what it is to live with and manage health

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Never lose sight of the individual at the centre of the care you are giving and always listen more than you speak.

What keeps you awake?

My cat thinks that as soon as the dawn chorus starts it is time for breakfast and knocks on my bedroom door to let me know.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Seeing people develop skills to manage long-term conditions and supporting those at the end of their lives to receive the care they require in the place of their choice.

What is your proudest achievement?

I am immensely proud every time I see students who I have mentored graduate. On a more personal note, it would be winning the gold medal for best nursing student at Stanmore.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?

I think healthcare assistants will be regulated, resulting in something akin to the SEN and SRN levels of nursing. I hope this will put greater value on caring in the profession and that training for graduate nurses will be extended so they obtain more practical experience.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?

If my dolls and teddies weren’t in bandages, they were lined up in front of a blackboard, so I suspect a teacher.

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

My current role if it still exists - definitely something in the community or general practice.

What makes a good nurse?

Someone who invokes a sense of trust, is accessible, gives hope but is realistic, values everyone as individuals, displays empathy, cares for all as if they were family, and always has a cheerful smile.

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

To get rid of some bureaucracy so nurses can spend more time focusing on their patients rather than the endless form filling.

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

My paternal grandfather who died just before I was born. I would love to understand the reasons why he changed his name as a young man and learn more about his young life.

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