30 minutes with Jan Seward, Outpatients Sister at County Hospital, Louth
- What is your background / how did you get to where you are?
I always wanted to be a nurse. I trained in 1973 at what was the new Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith. Then I moved to Stoke Mandeville General Hospital in Aylesbury for a few years before working in a private rehabilitation unit. I had a break from work when I had my children, then we moved to Lincolnshire. I started working at Louth hospital in 1988.
I think I got my nursing ‘genes’ from my Father. If he was born in a more modern era he would have been a nurse. He has always been very caring – but in those days it wasn’t as common to see male nurses. My mum has worked with children over the years – so they both definitely influenced my career.
- Why did you choose to work at ULHT?
When we moved to Lincolnshire from London I had interviews planned at Louth and Lincoln hospitals. The Louth one was first and on my way to the hospital, six locals asked me if I needed help and knew where I was going. Right then I knew I wanted to work in Louth. When I started at the hospital, the service wasn’t yet run by ULHT.
- What are your objectives over the next 12 months?
Well, I’m retiring in December. So hopefully I’ll be doing all the things I haven’t been able to do while working. Including spending more time with my family and more yoga! I have two children and two grandchildren, so I’ll hopefully be able to visit them more often.
- What do you think you bring to your role?
When I started at Louth hospital I was in a staff nurse role. Since 1995 I’ve been outpatients sister. What I’ve seen over the last 30 years are many changes. I’ve had to manage these changes for my team, while also still doing clinical work as my interest is in wound care and I lead the gynaecology clinic too.
In a role like mine, you have to be able to tell people what to do. This doesn’t come naturally to me, even after all these years. I still have to take a deep breath first.
- What are the main aspects of your role?
A lot of it is managing the clinics and the team. I need to know what clinics are on and making sure they’re staffed in advance. I have to deal with change quickly as clinics can be cancelled or staff can sometimes be off sick. There’s a lot of juggling. There’s also a lot of admin work that comes with a management role.
It’s mainly the day-to-day running of the department. There are 14 members of staff in my team and then there are specialist nurses and providers who use the department for their clinics.
- Describe a typical day
I come in at 8.30am. I check that everywhere is clean and tidy and deal with any issues. I then make sure the clinics have allocated staff, dealing with problems as they arise. Sometimes I’ll be working in a clinic.
Many people might not realise, but at Louth outpatients department we see 3,000 patients each month. It’s a busy department, but is quite small and a lot of the patients we see prefer to come to Louth rather than one of the bigger hospital sites.
- Where do you think the organisation’s strengths lie?
It has to be patient care, because that’s what it’s all about. Whenever me or my family have used services run by ULHT we’ve always been pleased.
We often only hear the bad things about NHS care, but the majority of the time patients have a positive experience.
- What drives you?
I know people always say this, but I really do enjoy my job. Yes, it’s a challenge most days and it’s very varied, but I’ve got a wonderful, caring team and we are here for the patients. We are here to help people.
- What is the best thing about your job?
Helping people. Whether that be patients or staff. Knowing I’ve made a difference is important to me. At the end of most days I go home and feel like it’s been a good day. When it’s very busy or challenging, it’s the prioritising that’s difficult.
- What do you think the organisation’s biggest challenge is?
It would have to be financial. No matter how much we want to do and provide for our patients, if the money is not there we can’t do it. Also, there are staffing issues which is a problem across the country. If the people aren’t out there, we simply can’t recruit them.
- What is your message to the staff at ULHT?
Don’t lose sight of why we are here – which is patient care. I like to think no one has lost that sight, because that’s why we’ve all chosen to work in the NHS.
We also need to put our hands up and say we don’t have the answer. It’s important to be open and honest with patients and colleagues.
It’s easy for us as staff to get hung up on the little things but we all need to look at the bigger picture and not get hung up on things that don’t have that much impact.
- What would you say to someone who was considering working for ULHT?
It’s a good Trust to work for. I know the bigger sites are very different to Louth, but it’s a very busy Trust and it has a lot to offer to its staff if they can look past the CQC ratings we’ve been given.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
On a personal note, our matron Sam Daniels has been very supportive of me throughout the years. She’s very fair and I’d like to thank her for all her help.
On the spot…
First record bought?
Sugar Sugar by The Archies
What are you listening to at the moment?
Absolutely everything. I’ve just bought a Jamie Cullum CD. My all-time favourites are Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
If you were having a dinner party, which three people would you invite and why?
My friend and neighbour Julie – she makes me laugh, my husband – to do the washing up, my other friend Chris who I used to go to yoga with
Who inspires you?
My father inspires me. He’s quite debilitated now with Parkinson’s disease. He has always been very eloquent, widely read and he has a terrific sense of humour. I’ve never ever seen him cross. He’s absolutely wonderful.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I would have to say Dovedale in Derbyshire. I’ve been there a few times.
If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you take?
Mary Wesley books – she’s a lovely author, a yoga mat, a box of matches
What do you like to do with your spare time?
I like reading – everything!
What three things would your friends or colleagues say about you?
They tease me about my lists, I write them constantly – but they never get crossed off! I would like to think that they think I’m supportive and help them as much as I can. Last one…they would say I’m untidy.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to think that people would remember me for helping people – in my personal and work life. I was a Royal College of Nursing Steward for a long time, where I helped and supported other nurses.