Posted on: 4 May 2020

A university lecturer who had no plans to return to the nursing profession, has been redeployed as a district nurse with CNWL, after being given an honorary contract.

Dr Caroline McGraw, a lecturer with the School of Health Sciences at City University of London, said her return to nursing to help with the COVID-19 outbreak, has been “life affirming.”Dr CAroline McGraw.jpg

She said: “District nurses deliver complex care to people in their own homes, in ‘wards without walls.’  Prior to joining City in 2013, I worked as a district nurse in North London for more than 15 years. Whilst I never imagined returning to clinical work, I now have an honorary contract with Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust to work in the district nursing service in Camden two days a week.  

“Having spent seven years out of the practice setting some of the key challenges I have encountered have included difficulties navigating my way around the neighbourhood (which has been diced and sliced by work on HS2), wearing PPE (which is not comfortable), and feeling super tired at the end of every shift (as I’m not used to doing 30K steps a day).  

“Nevertheless, it has been a life affirming experience; the patient contact has been great and members of the nursing team, whilst socially distancing themselves from one another, have been welcoming and supportive of me.

“A great support”

When the pandemic started Caroline contacted Lisa Basi, a former student, who is now the Head of Integrated Primary Care Camden (District Nursing, Community Therapy, Rapids) to find out how she could help.

“She was really keen to assist community nursing in any way,” said Lisa.

“Her university employer kindly agreed to support her to work with us and Nigel Redmond helped us to establish an Honorary Contract PDQ! Caroline was nervous about herself being ‘out of date’ with nursing practice. Caroline volunteered to work in DN anywhere in Camden and was brilliant to re-skill quickly with Jamie Cunningham the Lead Nurse in Hunter Street to mentor her.”

Lisa, who has been a nurse for 35 years, first met Caroline in 2013 at the Whittington NHS, and Haringey, where Caroline was one of the key course lecturers supporting the District Nursing students.

“Caroline has been a great support and resource in the community teams and we have really enjoyed working with her and her bravery as with all our nurses during a really challenging and unusual time.”