National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

31 March 2020

It’s barely been six months since Jessica Preece, a member of Princes Risborough YFC in Buckinghamshire, qualified as a nurse and now she’s helping to support the nation through a pandemic.

Long shifts, sleepless nights and isolating from family are all taking their toll but Jessica says she is proud to be part of the NHS. We spoke to 24-year-old Jessica about what it’s like being a nurse during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Q. How long have you been working as a nurse?

I am a palliative care nurse in a local hospice where I have worked since September 2019. I was a healthcare assistant for four years before that. My older sisters and  my mother all work for the NHS and it became my calling too. I love helping people and making them smile. There is a lot of job satisfaction when you have a positive impact on a patient’s day – especially when they feel they have nothing to be positive about. 

Q. What is your working day like at the moment?

My average day is 12.5 hours, with one hour for breaks. Days vary from being steady to crazy busy with admissions, discharges, deaths and patients rapidly deteriorating. On average I look after up to four patients but this can rise to five if we’re busy and short staffed.

Q. How does it feel to be effectively on the frontline during this crisis?

It’s a very scary and uncertain time to be a nurse, let alone only qualifying six months ago. Being newly qualified there is always a lot to learn, so, trying to do this while there’s a national and international crisis, is very scary. Recently I’ve been having trouble sleeping on my days off because of anxiety about what I’m going to face when I get back to the ward.

Q. How do you feel about the developing situation?

Obviously it’s a scary time for everyone right now, but most people are isolating at home. As key workers we can’t do this. We have no option but to face this virus and continue our daily jobs and care for our patients. While everywhere else has shut down, we’ve opened our doors wider in the hospitals to try and make as much room as we can for when poorly patients come in.

I’m very concerned about the situation getting worse as all you hear on social media and the news is how there’s not enough ICU beds, equipment or PPE (personal protective equipment). However, the Trust where I work is doing absolutely everything they can to keep staff safe.  We’ve had rapid training, daily Covid-19 updates and are emailed the most up-to-date resources. I’m petrified of what’s to come, but still have to carry on with my work because there will always be patients that need caring for.

Q. Are you isolating at home?

I live with my parents but if the situation gets worse I may have to move into hospital accommodation to protect their health and also as I need to continue to work.

I’m finding it hard to stay isolated, as my job is very challenging mentally, so being told that you have to stay in the house and stay with the same people for longer periods of time is proving to be a big challenge.

I am also not allowed to see my Nan and Grandad because of their health conditions – even though they only live a few houses away. I normally see them on my days off, so this has been one of the hardest things that I have done. I know in the long run it will be worth it.

Q. Has your YFC been supporting you?

I haven’t been able to go to a club meeting since starting my job due to my work/family commitments. However, I know they are always there to support me if I ever needed them. There is a wide variety of support from the club, advisory, county and friends that I have made from my time there that I’m still in regular contact with.

Q. Have you managed to stay connected to your YFC?

Our club did a zoom chat last week, where many members connected via the video call. I unfortunately was working so couldn’t take part. I think its so important that we all regularly check in with each other during this time, as I’m concerned the crisis is going to have a massive impact on people’s mental health.

Q.How did you feel about the national applause last week for the NHS?  

I felt such a surge of pride and it did make me very tearful. I was on shift that day and did not finish until 8pm. However, I did watch the videos that people had made of the applause happening. Myself and my colleagues were all moved by this act from the nation, however we are only doing our jobs.

Q. Are any skills you have picked up with YFC helping you in your role right now?

Some key skills I have gained are leadership, communication and organisation. The main one is definitely teamwork – YFC helps you adapt to be around a wide variety of people from all different backgrounds, age groups and careers. This has helped me in my job because I work as part of such a diverse team and have to work effectively to provide our patients with the best care and treatment possible.

Q. What would be your advice to YFC members about how they can stay safe? 

Stay safe, stay at home (unless you’re a key worker) and regularly check in with friends and family that you do not live with. Only leave the house when its absolutely necessary, wash your hands, clean all surfaces that you may touch (door handles, car steering wheel, mobile phones etc). Also make sure the elderly and vulnerable near to you are safe. Offer to do their shopping, walk their dogs etc.

The Government have not put this lockdown in place because they want to do it; they have done it for the safety of our country. Stay safe everyone.

If you are working during the Coronavirus outbreak and would like to profile what you are doing, please email NFYFC.

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