MS Awareness Week (29 April–5 May) is now just over a week away and the competition in our Super Nurse campaign is getting intense. We’ve now received nominations for over one hundred different MS specialist nurses across the country. But there’s still time to nominate your nurse – visit our MS Awareness Week site to find out more. Our latest nominee is Lindsay Harrison, MS Nurse at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. One of Lindsay’s patients offered this amazing testimony to her work:
Lindsay has been amazing. She is so supportive and informative. Empathetic but never patronising. Always quick to get back in touch whenever there’s a problem. Somehow she always manages to get me referred on very rapidly, when difficulties arise. When things get tough, she’s there with her sense of humour to make me laugh. I’ll never forget our first meeting: despite her busy schedule she came to our house. She encouraged and reinforced the good things that I was doing and gave so much information on what else I could do to help myself. She gave me hope and left giving me a warm, sincere hug. It was a turning point in my care.
Congratulations on being nominated as an MS Super Nurse! How does it feel to hear that kind of appreciation?
It’s lovely to receive feedback like that. It’s absolutely humbling. It’s lovely to be acknowledged but actually it means more to know that what I’ve done has made a difference. It shows you’re doing it right.
How did you first come to be an MS nurse?
I was a matron in neurosciences here at the hospital but I always wanted to be a specialist nurse. Specialist nursing is absolute quality nursing. There’s no other position that gives such quality care to people. I always wanted to do that role, but I had no idea what speciality. I heard about the vacancy for my job on the closing date and it was like a lightbulb above my head: I knew what I wanted to do! This was definitely the job for me. And it still is!
How long have you been an MS nurse?
Three years now. I’ve never had any regrets, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Has your role changed in that time?
My caseload has increased recently. I have covered Salford and Trafford for a couple of years, but one of my colleagues has just left so I’m now covering Wigan and Leigh as well. I’ve increased my hours to help do that. Which is fabulous. Even with Salford and Trafford I found it frustrating to be four days a week, not five. Because this is a fulltime job.
It’s been nice actually, covering a new area. Going into a new area with fresh eyes, you take with you what you’ve done and look at ways you can change things and do things. I personally believe you should tell people as much as you can about what’s available in your locality. It’s not just about symptom management, it’s about improving people’s quality of life. That’s a big thing for me. The more you can find out about the services in your area, the more you’re able to offer people.
For example, we’ve got a private gym in Salford and they have a hydrotherapy pool. And the manager at the gym has been fantastic – he gives me a discounted rate for people with MS to go and use the gym. It’s making a service available to people who ordinarily wouldn’t consider it or couldn’t afford it. It’s just been absolutely fantastic. So I’ve been trying to get as many people set up with that as I can. The feedback from the patients has been amazing. It’s nice to go a private gym isn’t it? Especially if you feel bad about yourself. From a therapeutic point of view – physically, socially, everything – it’s great.
How do you help people with MS?
It depends really on where they’re at. I really try to put a focus on positive aspects and self-managing. We manage symptoms as best we can, but we also work at educating people with MS about staying fit, healthy and well. Feeling good about yourself. Because being happy keeps you well.
What difference does the MS Trust make to you?
Huge. The MS Trust are phenomenal. The job that they do is incredible and they make a massive difference to people with MS and to nurses. For nurses, nobody else offers the same support that they do.
To read more about our Super Nurse campaign, find out about Bold In Blue fundraising events and help spread the word visit the MS Awareness Week site.