Corporal Alexandra Doyle provides an update on life as a military nurse and her time at Headley Court.
I had my last shift at the hospital in Portsmouth before Christmas, then had a nice break with my family before starting my new job. It was strange leaving some of the people I had gone through all my training with and going somewhere new, but I was excited for the change and interested to see what Headley Court was like. I went there as a student nurse for a placement in 2013 and really enjoyed working with military patients and staff. It’s quite different even in the few years since I was last working here, but it still has that distinctly ‘Headley Court’ feeling. Many of the civilian staff are still here – just like The Royal Star & Garter Homes – people start working here and never want to leave.
There is a mix of patients with injuries from car crashes, parachute accidents, battlefield injuries and a myriad of different injuries – both complex trauma and neurological conditions. This makes it a very varied place to work and the patients are great to work with. The ethos for recovery is second-to-none and all members of the treatment team work tirelessly to improve the patients’ health and lifestyle. I have met some amazing men and women here, with some incredible stories!
I have also been given the opportunity to work with the research team here on the ADVANCE study. It’s a 20-year study looking at the health outcomes of those injured during battle in Iraq or Afghanistan in comparison to non-injured serving personnel. It’ll hopefully improve treatment for personnel injured in the future. It’s an amazing project to be a part of – I’ve met some amazing people and it is putting me in the right direction for my future aspirations to be involved in research and education. (For more information please go to www.advancestudydmrc.org.uk )
Earlier in the year, I attended the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) Symposium in Cornwall. I was asked, alongside some colleagues, to give a talk about Headley Court and the changes that are due to happen here in the next year. That was a daunting task, but it went quite well in the end. I’m sure some of you are aware that Headley Court is due to close in the middle of next year. The unit is moving up to Stanford Hall near Loughborough. It’s a bit like the move The Royal Star & Garter Homes made a few years ago from Richmond to Surbiton. Stanford Hall will be a purpose-built facility where the patients will have their own en-suite rooms, the therapy and treatment buildings will have state-of-the-art equipment and all the mod-cons you can think of. It sounds amazing! We’re due to move in September 2018! (For more information please go to https://www.thednrc.org.uk/ )
I was also lucky enough to get to go to the PMRAFNS tennis tournament earlier this year. I’ve never really played tennis before, but there was a big mix of skills there, so I wasn’t alone in being a beginner. It was a great week of tennis and getting to know other RAF nurses. It was during the heat wave week in June, so we had so stop playing for about 5 hours in the middle of the day as it was deemed to be too hot to be safe! I’m applying to join my local tennis club now so I can improve for next year!
I will hopefully keep you all updated a bit more regularly now about my time at Headley Court and I’d love to answer any questions you may have – Headley Court is a fascinating place!
I hope you’re all enjoying the summer weather!
Corporal Alexandra Doyle