Elspeth's story

At the age of 17 Elspeth took a job working with people with learning disabilities in an occupational therapy assistant role which led to doing her learning disability nursing training. After various roles including working in social services and the voluntary sector looking after people with dementia, Elspeth returned to nursing and trained to be a general nurse.

“I never had a burning ambition to become a nurse” explains Elspeth “I took my first job because I wanted to work with and support people, rather than be in a factory or office.

“Working alongside inspirational nurses, seeing them make positive changes and the people I have been involved with have spurred me on to become the nurse I am today.”

After gaining experience in district nursing, palliative care, occupational health and cancer support, Elspeth’s current role is as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in urology oncology, supporting people with bladder cancer. She guides patients along their care journey from initial diagnosis and beyond.

“I’m the conduit between the system and the patient, helping them to navigate their personal journey” she says “to have the opportunity to be alongside someone at a difficult time and be a support for them is a privilege.

“I realised from my palliative care experience, you don’t get a practice run, you have to try and get it right first time. It really focuses you as a nurse.”

Elspeth was nominated for a Cavell Star Award for going above and beyond for her patients. Colleague and manager Michelle Donachie explains,

“When the pandemic hit we were stopped from giving BCG which is an outpatient bladder cancer treatment given over 3 years. This was stopped for 3 months. When the clinics reopened we had a 50% reduced capacity which meant there was no space for us to recommence treatments.

“Elspeth came to work all day Saturday and Sunday every weekend for 3 months till we caught up and has continued every Saturday so that we do not deny any patient with bladder cancer this treatment. She is caring, excellent at her job, knowledgeable, never in a bad mood and keeps all our spirits up in the team. I have been nursing for 34 years and I have never met a nurse quite like her!”

Elspeth reacted to winning her award,

“It’s a great honour and privilege to win a Cavell Star Award though I really feel that I’m no better than any of my amazing colleagues! We can only do what we do because of the team coming together and supporting each other. I’m the nurse I am and can only do what I do because of them.

“During the pandemic we’ve relied a lot on each other for emotional support. For example, the juggling of home schooling and work has been a struggle for a lot of people so the parents, not me, deserve a medal for getting through that. It’s been stressful for everyone, my usual coping strategies of getting away, walking up hills and mountains wasn’t available during lockdown so affected how I was able to cope at work. There isn’t anybody that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic, but I’m proud to be part of an amazing team that has, and will continue to, look out for each other.”

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