Celebrating our nurses

A Day In The Life

What’s it like to be an IPAC Nurse?

Lenny Neale-Krommenhoek is an Infection Prevention & Control (IPAC) Nurse in our IPAC team, responsible for the on-going improvement in the quality of the patient’s experience. More recently, Lenny and the team have been instrumental in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here she tells us what it’s like to be an IPAC Nurse at NCH&C.

I have worked in nursing for almost 40 years and have been an IPAC Nurse for past four years. The IPAC team at NCH&C is made up of a small team of specialist nurses, trained to give advice and support regarding infection prevention and control; our vision is that no person is harmed by a preventable infection.

Day to day

The role is varied, and no two days are ever the same. Unlike many specialist roles in the community, IPAC Nurses are somewhat unique and for the most part do not deliver “hands-on” patient care. We face different challenges due to the geographical diversity and location of our healthcare settings and IPAC work is frequently unpredictable and requires flexibility and rapid response. For instance, during outbreaks, our team is involved in assessing the situation to give the best advice to staff as quickly as possible. This advice could be different for community staff and ward-based staff, so we need to be certain the information is accurate and provides the correct protection to staff and patients. Winter is particularly demanding due to an increase in respiratory illnesses such as flu and norovirus.

Whilst outbreaks might be the first thing people think of when they hear of infection control, we also provide on the ground advice to other teams across the trust. For example, we work closely with the Estates and Facilites team to provide guidance on any building/renovation work and on water safety. Training is also an essential part of my job, ensuring all staff are aware of the required hygiene and Infection Prevention & Control standards.

During the COVID pandemic

As with many teams across the trust, the IPAC team had to mobilise quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were involved from the start, screening the public from as early as February. The process for screening was developed and implemented by our team within five hours and continued throughout February, March and April, expanding with government requirements.

At the end of April, our response changed again, and we launched the care home resident screening programme. This programme involves screening symptomatic residents in the care homes, whilst also supporting and signposting symptomatic staff to the screening service at the local acute hospital.

The team and I continue to support all NCH&C services, currently providing an on-call service out of hours to ensure staff can always access advice.

Final thoughts

The role of an IPAC Nurse can be challenging at times, but I am fortunate to able to work closely with my colleagues to improve and support patient care. Whilst we are currently navigating strange times, and the severity and impact of what we are facing is largely unknown, knowing that the work I have been doing to ensure my colleagues on the frontline are educated and appropriately protected makes me proud to be an IPAC Nurse.