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Caring for patients with complex needs in Rome

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Meeting the Pope was the highlight of the trip for Meeting the Pope was the highlight of the trip for both the volunteers and the patients

I have been a volunteer medic for various organisations since 2008. I rarely take holidays that do not involve me caring for someone as a nurse. My nursing career has taken me to many parts of the world and allowed me to care for vulnerable people.

In April 2016, I was asked by Across if I would like to accompany a group of sick and disabled VIPs (very important pilgrims) on a trip to Rome in April 2016. This involved taking 10 VIPs along with 12 helpers and group leaders on a purpose built coach ambulance, which was equipped with stretchers, wheelchair access, emergency equipment, kitchen, disabled toilet and hoist; essentially, everything needed to travel by land for 30 hours to Rome.

The trip was organised by Across, a charity that specialises in holidays for people with disabilities for those who are unable to travel by air and who needed 24-hour medical support.

Having worked with Across before I knew this would not be an easy trip, with an emphasis on hard work and determination.

The group was made up of volunteers of various ages, with myself as lead nurse, my friend Nicola Austerberry (a nurse who works as a commissioning manager with North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent CCG) who is also a regular volunteer and Patricia McCamley, a retired district nurse from Southampton.


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