Caring for Key Workers | Fiona Cowan

With today marking International Nurses Day, our next Caring for Key Workers blog interviews Fiona Cowan, a Clinical Nurse Manager based in Glasgow. Leading over 500 nurses and support workers, read on to discover insights from Fiona's role in the current climate as well as her advice on how we can remain positive during this uncertain time. 

When I get home I sit in the garden for as long as possible, you can't underestimate the benefit of fresh air!

Can you tell us more about what your role involves?

My day job is Professional Nursing Lead for around 500 nurses and support workers. We look after patients in Operating theatres, Day Surgery units and Endoscopy suites. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, my role has adapted to support the Board response as the clinical link for the logistics group. This has primarily involved clinical advice and resolving key issues to support the increased number of patients that we have been seeing. For example, ensuring we have enough equipment and supplies to cope with the demand and any subsequent peaks in activity. In addition to this, staff support and wellbeing has been a key part of my role. Ensuring that staff are able to take time away from the busy areas to rest and regroup.

What are you finding most challenging in your line of work at the moment?

The most challenging part is the intensity and pace of continual change. Nurses are trained to adapt and overcome but we are not trained how to “cope” in a pandemic. We are learning every day how this virus behaves and then adjusting what we are doing accordingly. We are all aware of daily Government briefings as a result of new information and data and this then needs to be translated into reality in the hospitals and communities. Patient and staff safety continues to be the top priority, so ensuring we have correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and staffing form the daily focus.

How are you feeling during this difficult time?

I have been in nursing for 27 years and have a glass half full approach to work and life in general. Without a shadow of a doubt, this has tested that every single day. It is often the smallest of things that catch you unaware that then triggers a plethora of emotions. I have cried more over the last 3 months than I have throughout my career which in itself causes me a degree of anxiety. I have also been conscious that supporting my family at this time has been really important. They watch me leave every day to go to work and then worry for my safety and if I will bring the virus home.

What are you doing to remain positive in the current climate?

For me as an individual, I don't see that I have any other option other than to remain positive. My work colleagues and my family rely on support and reassurance and this needs to be delivered with as much positivity as possible. We all recognise that no one has all the answers, but teamwork almost always allows for a positive outcome. I truly believe we will come through this stronger and better informed. We will need to do things differently and some of the changes required will be better than the status quo.

What would your advice be to ensure we can keep positive during this difficult time?

Trust the experts, some level of normality will emerge soon.

How do you prefer to unwind after the end of a long day?

When I return home I deliberately turn the TV off as I learned early on that spending time at home watching more updates and news was not helpful. When I get home I sit in the garden for as long as possible, you can't underestimate the benefit of fresh air!

What three items are essential in your daily unwind routine?

My fiddle and a new tune to learn each week, a catch up with my family and a glass of Malbec!

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