While Nurses Week is an opportunity to celebrate nurses, we thought it was also a chance to hand the mic over and hear from them. We asked Nurses and Care Workers to share their experiences over the last year and we were overwhelmed with the response we received. From making us smile to making us cry. Thank you to everyone who took part, below is a snapshot of the responses we received.

How have you found the last year? 

Mind blowing! The love from the public has been amazing but also I felt sad that we hadn’t been noticed before, if that makes sense? Natalie N 

Tough, bizarre, challenging. But the way people made sacrifices to be able to care for others is just amazing. Becky C 

As an infection prevention and control nurse the last year has been a massive challenge both personally and professionally. At times there have been some absolute crushing lows, but also some really big highs, being involved in the Covid vaccination roll out will always be an all time career high for me. I think as well that whilst at times I’ve felt incredibly lonely, I’ve also felt incredibly blessed to have the most amazing team, family and friends around me who have supported me at every moment. Connie T-O

It’s been exhausting but then nursing is. Covid has added an unknown dimension to all types of nursing (adult, mental health, learning disability, children’s) but the same issues are still there – being short staffed, daily abuse. Anonymous 

Stressful, most upsetting in my 15 years qualified both personally and professionally. Claire E

Initially it was a huge struggle – the uncertainty of the disease, wondering if we would have enough PPE to protect ourselves, worrying about transmitting infection to our families when it wasn’t an option to separate… however we have adapted and overcome the obstacles, especially because I am part of a strong, supportive team of fantastic nurses. Angela J 

It’s been crazy. I haven’t been frontline but I have been keeping the services we needed to keep running, running! This wasn’t easy with all the restrictions in place and the resources/ staff that had to be reallocated. We still had to look after our usual patients. It’s weird that I have to work through some guilt at not being frontline. Krissy T

When the pandemic is over, what do you hope people will take from it?

The importance of friends and family, the support from others. Julie M 

To appreciate each other, be kind, enjoy the simple things and get vaccinated! Sally R

That they would value the health care system we have. That life is precious and we all have a responsibility to look after ourselves and each other. E.S 

That the NHS really is amazing. We are lucky to have it and we need to look after it. Becky C

I really hope people will value their healthcare professionals, the public support has been incredible and I hope that continues. Also I hope people will take the message of how important immunisations are in protecting us and preventing outbreaks and pandemics and also the importance and how powerful something as simple as hand hygiene can be. Connie T-O

I really hope people recognise the efforts of the NHS and educate themselves on the healthcare system – only use A&E when it is an accident or emergency and utilise the other resources to keep those spaces clear for us to help those in immediate danger. Also to be patient with healthcare staff – we are trying. I have seen patients get aggravated over not receiving water while the nurse is dealing with a crash call in another room – in a world where you can be anything, be kind. Taylor L 

What do you think is the best way people can say thank you to a nurse?

A pack of pens… I’m always losing mine! Jools C 

Keep yourself as healthy as you can, don’t abuse/ misuse the system. At the end of the day it’s my job, it’s just a job like everyone else has. Everyone has had challenges in the last year and has coped amazingly. I’m not sure we are any more special to say thank you to than anyone else. But it’s lovely to receive anything to acknowledge that you have done a good job or made a difference – it’s the thought that counts. Krissy T

Follow the rules! Joanne C 

Just say thank you xx Julie M 

A lovely written note. And something delicious! I always say no flowers – a note is really useful for re-validation too. Beth 

By getting vaccinated and adhering to any restrictions that may still be in place as we approach the summer. Sally R

Just saying it to our faces at the time of our care giving.  Angela J 

Continue to support us, be kind to each other and look out for one another! Hopefully this year people have been inspired to become nurses, so if you join us in this amazing and diverse and wonderful career, where anything is possible, that would be a truly amazing thank you! Connie T-O

What are you most looking forwards to once restrictions are lifted?

Feeling more relaxed. Jools C 

Quality time with friends. Being about to be spontaneous! E.S

Hugging my work colleagues! It has been so hard not to show affection like this, especially at the peak of the lockdown last year when we were all scared and everything was uncertain and up in the air. I’m also looking forward to eating food out and spending quality time with my family. Natalie N 

Taking my son on lovely days out again, meeting my girls for wine and food, going to the shops and having cocktails, days at the spa – EVERYTHING! Taylor L 

I’m seeing my nan finally this week, she is in a care home and I haven’t seen her. I haven’t seen my 3 brothers, or my nieces and nephews as they live in Wales. Jo C

Socialising with friends and family, inside and out. Hugging every single one. Sally R 

Seeing my friends and family freely, hugs and seeing smiling faces not masks! Krissy T 

How are you hoping to rest and recuperate this summer? (keeping everything crossed you are able to)

Walking with friends and their dogs, a cottage holiday with family and working less…Sally R

Annual leave at last! Krissy T 

Going to the seaside and taking in the sea air. Jools C

Relaxing in my garden, hopefully will get away for a couple of short breaks also. Natalie N 

A big thank you to everyone who took part and shared their story and a HUGE thank you to all our amazing healthcare professionals. We are very grateful to each and every one of you.