Katy Colley, Family Nurse, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust
Working as a family nurse with young, vulnerable parents and helping to roll out the national Covid vaccination programme
A family nurse in Norfolk, Katy Colley works with young and vulnerable parents. She comes from a background of mental health nursing and health visiting. Since the start of the vaccination roll-out, she’s also been helping at her local vaccination centre.
"We help reduce social inequalities ... the youngest on my caseload is 14 and the oldest 21."
Katy supports young parents in the transition to parenting to improve the outcome for both parent and child, in her role as family nurse. “We help reduce social health inequalities in areas such as school readiness, language skills, pre-school, achieving full immunisation status and accessing healthcare when needed. The youngest on my caseload is 14 and the oldest 21, because we work with parents who conceived at 19 or younger and until their child is 2.”
Family nursing is completely different from working as a mental health nurse, although it shares some of the same skills. “When I was a mental health nurse I was on a ward, looking after poorly people in acute stages of mental health crises, managing that crisis and supporting people through it. Family nursing is really different. But the skills you develop are the same, such as listening, communication and risk management. We aim to make everyone as safe as possible, whether it’s child protection or because a person is unsafe to themselves.”
"I work with young people ... I find the push and pull in the relationship quite hard. I have my own teenagers and it can mirror that."
An aspect of family nursing that Katy finds particularly challenging is trying not to feel personally affected. “I work with young people and there’s often impulsivity and a lack of trust. Sometimes there are engagement issues. One day it’s everything, and the next day it’s nothing. I find the push and pull in the relationship quite hard. I have my own teenagers and it can mirror that.” Asked whether having teenage boys helps her in her job as a family nurse, she laughs, and says it’s the other way round. “I think my job helps me with teenage boys. I have more understanding about how their brain works and their ability to control impulses and manage those really big feelings. It’s really hard for them.”
"One time I walked into the vaccination centre in my scrubs and somebody clapped me. It’s rewarding."
Since the start of the vaccination roll-out, Katy has helped once a week at her local vaccination centre. “In mental health, people might be sectioned so they’re not grateful. It’s quite different when people thank you. One time I walked into the vaccination centre in my scrubs and somebody clapped me. It’s rewarding. It was also easier to explain to my five-year-old son what I was doing when I had to leave him at the weekend. When he thought that I was helping get rid of coronavirus he didn’t mind so much.”
She recognises, however, that being a family nurse is more rewarding in the long-term. “Our goal is that somebody will stop smoking, or a child will access nursery, or someone will leave a domestic abuse relationship. But they won’t come and say ‘thank you’ for it. They’re the ones making an important decision, but we’re supporting them. That feels much more rewarding.”
"As we’re coming out of lockdown it feels like people are on the edge."
Katy notes as a woman in the NHS that she’s always felt supported in prioritising her own family when needed. She also recognises the strain placed on female staff by the pandemic. “As we’re coming out of lockdown it feels like people are on the edge. Everybody’s struggling personally and emotionally. There’s a lot of big emotions.” #nhsheroes #unsungheroes #covidvaccinationprogramme #CambridgeshireCommunityServicesNHSTrust #womeninthennhs
Genevieve Shaw, editor