A University of Worcester student nurse has been recognised for her self-sacrifice to limit the spread of Covid-19 at the height of the pandemic.
Abigail Brookes, along with three other colleagues, received a special award from their employer, learning disability support provider Dimensions, for their work going above and beyond their duties to support people who use the service.
The current second year Adult Nursing student was among a handful of Dimensions staff who volunteered to live in with the people they support for an indeterminate period of time as Covid-19 spread rapidly across the country in the spring of 2020.
“I am extremely honoured to have received this award,” said Abigail, of Rainbow Hill, Worcester. “However, I know it wasn't without the help of my wonderful colleagues. We pulled each other through the difficult times. I volunteered myself to live at work because I understood it was an extremely unique circumstance, and I realised it was something not everyone would be able to do, mostly because of commitments outside of work. I volunteered most of all for the people I support, whom you work with closely and get to know. I wanted to make sure their anxieties were alleviated as much as possible.”
Dimensions’ ’Inspiring People’ Awards recognise the work of individuals, or teams that has a positive impact on the people the organisation supports.
Before starting her studies, Abigail was a full-time employee at Dimensions, an organisation that supports adults with a range of learning difficulties, where she still does occasional shifts. As a support worker, she supports people with a range of complex needs, to live increasingly independently in their own homes.
At the start of the pandemic, Abigail’s locality manager asked for four colleagues to volunteer to be prepared to live at the service where they worked if any of the people they supported had, or expected to have, coronavirus. This was so they could self-isolate together and minimise the spread of infection. This situation did occur in May 2020, and Abigail and her colleagues moved in without knowing how long that situation was likely to last. In the end, they lived in for a week.
She said: “We were all living in the same house, as the people we support all live together. It was obviously challenging, but we all pulled each other through it. Most importantly, we tried to make the experience as comfortable and normal as possible for the people we support, who don't always deal well with a change of routine. We didn’t actually know how long this situation was going to continue. We were in a completely new experience, and probably would have done it as many times as needed. We were also very grateful for the other staff for sending us food supplies and general messages of support during that time.”
Abigail is now working towards a career in nursing. “The skills required to support the people living in the service I work at are fairly complex, which is what prompted me to go into nursing,” she said. “My job inspired me to help other people and support them to live happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives as much as is possible. I also like to be constantly learning new skills and gaining as much experience as possible, which is why I think nursing is the perfect vocation for me.”
Kirsty Wedgbury, Senior Lecturer in Skills & Simulation at the University’s Three Counties School of Nursing & Midwifery, said: “Abigail’s experience just demonstrates how our student nurses, even before and also on their course, have been making a real difference to people’s lives in a variety of different ways during the pandemic.”