Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery

Is their Nursing in your family? by Daniel Gooding

My family (those I class as family) has three sides. But because I wanted to make this informed and special, I had to ask my family about this, hence why it is a little later than planned. What I found out though, is extraordinary. Some of the reflections from my Grandparents are longer than other family members as they are retired and are able to share their stories. I would like to take a moment to remember those who have gone before too.

My Dad’s family has a lot of healthcare background. My Grandmother was a Registered Mental Health Nurse during her working life, taking nursing up as a mature student. My Grandfather was a health and social care manager within the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Many of my uncles and aunties went into Mental Health and Learning Disabilities nursing, and at one point many were working in Rampton hospital. One of three high security hospitals in England.

Going back, my great, great, great, great (maybe even great, great, Grandmother, Catherine Sarah Moon, according to the 1861 census was a Monthly Nurse what we call would call today a Midwife. From what I could find out, Monthly Nurses were there, to provide support to the family. While the term originates in the idea that these nurses would help out for ‘about a month’ this is a little misleading and the actual employment could last as little as a few visits or as long as several months (Elizabeth Walne).

Since then, my maternal grandmother started her career as a Cadet Nurse in an outpatients department was her first wage was £22 per month. As a Cadet nurse, she would spend 2 days a week at college. She later moved to another larger hospital and attended Ewell college on the “Pre-Nursing course”, again in Outpatient Department where she also received the “Cadet Nurse of the Year” award. She qualified as a State Enrolled Nurse 9th June 1970 and continued to work in her district until she married in September 1970. However, following on from her nurse training, she completed her Midwifery training between September 1970 – July 1971, allowing her to work in a Special Care Baby Unit until 1975. From 1975 – 1977 she decided to train as a Palliative Care Nurse and worked with The Marie Curie nursing service. Afterwards, she moved to Teignmouth, Devon where she worked as a staff nurse looking after the elderly residence within a care home for 2 years. During this time, my Grandmother fell ill, retrained as a Pharmacy Dispensing Technician, got restless from doing that and so started working at Dawlish Hospital, a small minor injuries unit and a 3 bedded inpatient unit. From there she moved to Torbay Hospital, where she worked un Outpatients across many specialities, including GUM, where she developed a bond with the teams looking after people with HIV/AIDS and in 1987 she applied and was successful in obtaining a new created post as Health Advisor HIV/AIDS. She worked alongside multi-disciplinary teams planning services, teaching safer sexual practices , Hiv/Aids and the increasing concern about universal precautions. Along side her team, she help set up a support group for their “clients”, partners and their families within Torbay area. Over the next several years, she trained as a Stress Management Therapist, and helped to set up clinics across Devon, before returning to GUM. In 1992 the Devon Hiv/Aids Association opened its doors at Place Gate Exeter providing alongside the other areas Complimentary Therapies for clients and their close families and partners. Her work directly working for the NHS came to an end at this time as having been the founder of the DAA the Trustees asked if she would lead the client services as a manager, co-ordinate the charity, the staff and provision of services. After this, she did a return to nursing course in 1999 before working as a staff nurse and tutor within a nursing home for 5 years before moving to Cyprus.

Given that this blog is about my entire family, I have giving just a small snapshot of what my Grandmother did as a nurse. You can find a more indepth version here, along with her own “Grandma” comments, which are well worth reading as it really gives a personal view.

My Grandfather worked for the Ambulance service. He joined in June 1969 as a “Trainee Ambulance Person” and spent his career working in various roles and undertaking through a career of 24 years. Essentially, he joined as a Qualified Ambulance  person, Station/Sub Officer, where he worked on all aspects of ambulance duties both routine and emergency call outs to road traffic crashes, collapse, sudden illness, delivering babies and other such emergencies, as well as attending major accidents and incidents including at a large airport. He was also responsible for the efficient and effective running of Ambulance Stations, staff and their welfare, vehicle inventories. From there he became a  Training Instructor, qualified as an ambulance training instructor carrying out training on all courses including management, evaluating new equipment to be installed on ambulances. From this role he became the Assistant Controller/Hospital Liaison Officer in which he was responsible for ensuring correct mobilisation of ambulance vehicles to all types of emergencies including major incidents and routine work in a county ambulance control room which at the time, had up to date new technology. He also dealt with hospital queries and complaints and ensuring good partnership work to achieve a good quality service between hospitals and the ambulance service. This led him down a management route which included handling budgets, statistical retrieval, budgetary control, employee relations, development of vehicle specifications, management of staff and working in multi disciplinary teams. Whilst in this post he also studied and attained my general management degree. The skills he had gained over time ended up with him being appointed as a Deputy/Assistant Divisional Commander and then the Chief Ambulance Officer for the county. He was responsible for ensuring the County Ambulance service was able to meet all laid down statutory requirements and performance indicators operational, communications and training as set out by the Department of Health, working in conjunction with the Health authorities and its partners. This included a budget of £6 million with a staff of 520, 240 Hospital Cars drivers, 27 Ambulance stations and 126 vehicles. He developed an Employee Relations strategy, capital development for future expansions,  business plans and successfully led the county ambulance service into an NHS trust, this entailed extensive and complex consultation and negotiations with partners, various public sector organisations and trade unions. As part of the new NHS Trust, he became responsible for non-ambulance contracting and income generation to ensure financial viability in a competitive environment as part of Government policy.

My Auntie is an adult nurse who has done more study and is now a registered specialist community public health nurse in health visiting and also a community practitioner nurse prescriber.

The third part of my family are French. Catherine, my second cousin, is a public health nurse specialist in France, however she has also worked in gastrointestinal and respiratory. There is a midwife in Cornwall and many healthcare auxiliary workers. In fact, my French grandfather, Jean Guerin (Pépé) was an army medic during World War 2. How interesting is that! My family also tell me we have doctors, including Brain surgeons across Northern France.

These wonderful people were and are no doubt fantastic nurses! I have come from a family who have served others as well as being trail blazers, trying to do their best for those they look after those within their community. I did not realise the extent the history in terms of healthcare within my families. I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

Yours in nursing,


What inspired you to write this blog?

The Transforming Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery 30 Day Challenge

What is your role?

Third Year CYP Nursing Student -  Leader - Nursing Activist - RCN SIO of the Year 2018

What are your nursing and/or midwifery qualifications?

Third Year CYP Nursing Student


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