'I was signed off from my work as a community nurse for a few months early last year due to burnout. I love community nursing – it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. But I’ve decided to leave this area of nursing due to the fear of further damage to my mental and physical well-being,’ says Kelly, a community nurse based in the south east of England.
Initially Kelly ‘absolutely loved’ her job. But even before the pandemic she was finding the expectations and demands of her role ‘were taking over my life’. ‘No one prepares you during your training as a community nurse that there’s no let up. You have to give one hundred per cent all of the time,’ she says.
The support of colleagues would normally have helped her to cope with those challenges. But since the pandemic she says ‘there’s not that feeling of community within community nursing’.
‘There’s a lack of cohesion, team work and that feeling of togetherness, which ultimately is what gets you through the day,’ she says.
She explains that since the pandemic hit, central meeting places for staff have been taken up by other services. There are also fewer nurses in her team, with members leaving as a result of exhaustion and stress, to take on other roles or quitting the profession altogether. This shortage of staff, loss of reassurance and support amongst colleagues, lack of team contact during the pandemic, as well as greater workload pressures ‘all combined to make me feel burnt out’.