“I try to be there for people and help as much as I can”

Posted on Fri, 15/10/2021 by Helen Larkin, modern matron for medicine

Helen Larkin

Helen Larkin is the modern matron for medicine. Here she gives a bit of background on what her role involves.

"I’ve been a modern matron in medicine since November 2020, and before that I worked as a ward manager on ward 21, a Gynae Onocology Ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

I currently look after several departments, which includes our care of the elderly wards (22, 23, 24 and 25) as well as the Jubilee Acute Stroke Unit (JASRU) and St Bede’s palliative care unit, as well as being available to support our Care of the Elderly Nurse Specialists.

Quality and safety are at the forefront of everything we do, so that covers lots of different things every day. It could be looking at safe staffing levels, recruitment, environmental visits, audits right through to picking up on service improvements on the wards and making sure there is a culture of good practice. Ultimately, it’s about looking at projects that will improve our services for our patients.

I’m also involved with dealing with pressures across the organisation, such as patient flow and patient discharge. Infection control is a large part of my role too, making sure that we’re all following the very strict PPE guidelines and making sure everyone is updated on a regular basis.

I try to touch base on a daily basis with the teams I work with, and it’s important to be visible and present for staff, whether that be the housekeepers or the nurses in charge on the ward.

When the pandemic started, I remember the feelings of anxiety as we waited for patients to come in. I worked as ward manager on the covid ward during that time and it gave me an insight into the anxieties experienced by staff both personally and professionally.

When I put my mind back to November 2020, as I started this new role, we were more prepared for wave 2 and my experiences made me consider people’s home life more and helped me to focus on people’s health and wellbeing. I try to be there for people and listen to them, and help as much as I can.

Being a modern matron is a hard job, and has its challenges like most jobs! But overall it has been really enjoyable and I would encourage anyone who is thinking of trying to move into a similar role to just go for it. I get to meet different people and help others to access learning and development opportunities.

I absolutely love it, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I loved my previous jobs but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my career and it’s been such an amazing opportunity."

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