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Children’s nurse receives much needed support

Children’s nurse receives much needed help during global pandemic

When the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gemma’s university and home life were disrupted beyond recognition. 

The mother of two and qualified children’s nurse, is studying for a one-year Specialist Community Nurse postgraduate qualification and has ambitions of becoming a health visitor for 0 to 5-year-olds. 

Having taken a significant reduction in salary by leaving a previous position to take the course at Northumbria University, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Gemma and her family hard. Her husband’s business was adversely affected, and two children were studying at home. 

Gemma, whose full-time funded course involves 50% academic work and 50% in practice, works at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and is due to complete her postgraduate qualification in March 2022. 

Lectures were paused in March 2020 due to the pandemic, and Gemma suffered a string of setbacks which affected her online learning. 

Gemma, who was recently diagnosed with a mild learning difficulty, contracted COVID-19 and was having to share her laptop with her children, one of which is studying for A levels. Gemma spent a night in hospital due to COVID-19 but was ill for over 10 weeks. She applied to the Hardship Fund which awarded her a grant of £300 so she could buy a new laptop. 

Gemma said: “Those first few weeks were very stressful. The nature of my work means that some of the research I was doing involved content relating to child abuse, domestic violence or trauma in childhood and I wasn’t comfortable with my boys using the same laptop. Plus, we were having to share the laptop and work in shifts which isn’t exactly ideal. 

“I was really unwell for 10 to 12 weeks with COVID-19 and my energy levels were low. I used to go to the university library to study as I live 1.5 hours away so when it went online it was a struggle. “I feel much better now and it’s such a relief to have the laptop so I can work from home one day a week and do all my learning online. It has also been helpful for my learning difficulties as I could change all my settings to be able to read things better from the very beginning. “Things are so much better and it’s working well – I’m not sure how my stress levels would have been if things had carried on the way they were. “Now I’m looking forward to taking on tomorrow and becoming a qualified health visitor. I plan to do work more in public health. It’s very rewarding and I’m hoping that it will be higher on the Government’s agenda in the light of the pandemic.” 


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