In short, Norland offered me a wealth of opportunity and opened a variety of doors resulting in many enjoyable working roles.
My name is Claire Watson and I was in Set 102 at Norland College, graduating in 1989, which was undoubtedly the best time in my single adult life that I could have ever hoped for.
After leaving Norland College I spent 5 years working as a nanny, a nanny share, live in, temporary nanny and in a nursery school before studying to become an educational tutor, helping other childcare workers fulfil their aspirations.
After having a family of my own I now find myself employed in a role that I secured, beating 230 other candidates based on, you guessed it, my Norland knowledge and training. The indepth training I had received 25 years earlier had not only gotten me through the paper sift but helped me secure my dream job.
So what do I do? How do I spend my day?
I am a Neonatal Nursery Nurse – a rare but growing breed, like all nursery nurse posts in hospitals they go in and out of fashion but we are currently enjoying a come back!
I work alongside the nurses and doctors on a busy neonatal ward at Lincoln County Hospital. I belong to a team of 10 nursery nurses whose skills and experience are quite simply astonishing and I am a newbie! I have been in this role for 5 years this November and many of my co-workers have more than 20 years each behind them.
My day starts at 7am when I receive handover from the nightshift and I get a brief history of each baby on the unit. Our 20 bedded unit has babies from 27 weeks gestation and we have intensive care, high dependency and special care babies in our care. I am usually allocated a workload of up to 4 babies and their families and work predominantly in the special care rooms.
Next I receive a handover at the bedside of each of my babies and hear in-depth how they are progressing. I may have to care for babies with respiratory distress, those on oxygen, babies with fluids and drips in situe. I care for babies who are born to diabetic mothers who need to have their blood sugars closely monitored and those who are jaundice under phototherapy.
My daily duties include changing tiny nappies the size they make for dolls, feeding babies every 1, 2 or 3 hours, I take notes about the colour of their poop(!) and monitor their respirations, heart rate and temperature around the clock.
Each day is different and I am trained to care for each patient like it is the first baby we have seen with problems surrounding prematurity. Each baby responds to treatment differently and unlike adults or children they can't tell us what is wrong or even when they are in pain. Premature babies don't respond to pain in the same way a term baby will, they are very quiet, often the only signs you get are hand gestures or a grimace.
I work alongside the nursing team to ensure each baby receives the correct medications, food and medical care each day. In addition I am responsible for making sure that mum and dad are welcomed on to the unit, that everything is explained to them and that we make them feel part of their baby's care. It is my job to calm them down and help them adjust to their baby's unplanned early arrival. Teaching parents initially how to give positive touch to their tiny baby, (prem babies do not like to be stroked) can be hugely daunting. You must quickly build trust and intimacy with each set of parents, not an easy task when they feel anxious, angry or confused.
Over time we teach parents and siblings parent craft skills to empower them to take back ownership of their child. Parents tell us that there is some consolation for the fear and anxiety they have to endure: help with breastfeeding, learning parent craft skills; teaching parents CPR (yes I am a trainer now!) are all things that parents really appreciate. Here my Norland training and experience as a nanny comes into its own.
My day is not structured like traditional nannying roles, there are set times for feeds, medicines, ward rounds and visiting times but I never know what my day will hold and what I may face. I have had grown men cry in my arms when their baby has taken a turn for the worse. I have seen tears of joy from mums who have spent weeks expressing breast milk followed by more weeks trying to encourage their tiny baby to feed at the breast, finally to have them latch on properly for the first time ever! I never have two days that are the same and I always feel that I have made a difference in someone's life - little wonder that my peers have stayed for so long!
My role includes being a nurturer, friend, confident, nurse, teacher, team member and advocate for both family and baby alike! I rarely work with the same people twice in a row so it's vital I get on with all my work colleagues to ensure the ward runs smoothly, I am trusted and respected by the people I work with like nothing I have ever experienced. You have to be a good team player to cope when the unexpected happens and we all change work loads at the drop of a hat because several babies can arrive on the ward at once needing critical care.
My job is amazing, exciting, unique and something to be treasured. Never a dull moment, intense and surprising it is the most fulfilling role apart from motherhood that I have ever had. I am proud to be a Norland Nanny and a Neonatal Nursery Nurse.