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International Nurses Day – The Evolution of the Specialist Bladder and Bowel Care Nurse

old nurses pic

Davina Richardson from Bladder & Bowel UK talks about her journey into the world of a Specialist Bladder and Bowel Care Nurse.

In the mid-1980s all nursing education and most nursing roles, with the exceptions of health visiting and district nursing, were hospital-based. There were few specialist nurse roles; those that did exist were often pioneering and not universally available. Bladder and bowel care were considered part of basic nursing care; nothing more and nothing less.

Davina’s Journey into the Nursing World

The rapid changes in the world over the last few decades have also affected nursing. There has been an increase in focus on public health, on prevention, on delivering care to people where they are. It therefore seemed a natural progression for me to move away from acute hospital work to a community role. The approach is different, some of the roles I undertook were with teams that were considered innovative at the time. The privileges of being able to support children and their families were no less profound, challenging or rewarding.

davina's graduation photo

Davina’s graduation photo

About fifteen years ago I spotted an advert for a children’s continence nurse. Not really understanding what the job would entail, I did not apply. However, just after the closing date a school nurse, pointed out the potential: I would have my own caseload and be able to offer continuity of care, while developing something new. That put a different light on it, so when the job was re-advertised, I applied.

When offered the post had no idea where it would lead, or that fifteen years later I would still be happily working in the same specialism. Bladder and bowel care is not considered glamorous. Most people remain embarrassed and unwilling to talk about private bodily functions, so that there is a lack of awareness of what is considered healthy and what may require intervention. Some friends and family still do not understand why I do ‘that job’.

A love of children and young people and a desire to support them and their families was what brought me into children’s nursing. I never doubted that it would be a profession that I would still be involved in when the time comes to retire. However, I had not imagined how much difference supporting and promoting bladder and bowel health would make to children and families but also of the potential benefits to the NHS. Good bladder and bowel nurse-led care makes a huge difference to quality of life, but can also help preserve valuable NHS resources. It can reduce the need for outpatient appointments with consultants and attendances at accident and emergency departments, as well as admissions to hospital for related problems.

Davina’s Role at Bladder & Bowel UK

My current role with Bladder & Bowel UK includes providing information to support individuals who have questions about toilet training, day and nighttime wetting, constipation and soiling, as well as using products to contain incontinence. I undertake teaching to health care professionals as well as families, work with national organisations and corporate colleagues to support and promote specialised bladder and bowel care. It is interesting, varied, rewarding and no two days are ever the same. I feel very privileged to be able to work with wonderful colleagues both at Bladder & Bowel UK, in the NHS and from companies and groups across the UK.

recent photo of davina

Today, as we celebrate International Nurses Day and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, I am humbled by the response of so many nurses from so many different areas and specialities to the crisis presented by Covid-19. Many have moved from their usual area of work, or in some cases retirement to support the national effort. As I write this, we have just spent two minutes silence to commemorate all the key workers who have died. On this special day for my profession, I want to wish all nurses, no matter what they are doing, or where they are, a very special day.

Get in Touch with Bladder & Bowel UK

If you would like to speak to one of our Specialist Nurses via our confidential helpline please call 0161 607 8219 or email bbuk@disabledliving.co.uk. Free downloadable resources can be found on our website: www.bbuk.org.uk

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