Hello. My name is Jackie Rees and I am the nurse consultant for continence leading the Newcastle Specialist Continence Service.
This unique service provides an effective, truly integrated model between acute hospital and community based care.
My nursing career began as a student nurse training at the Royal Victoria Infirmary before qualifying as a staff nurse. I was promoted to ward sister and then, when Newcastle became one of the first areas in the country to introduce a nurse specialist for continence, I seized the opportunity to take up this exciting new role.
My experience over the years helped me to develop and grow and in the last 17 years I have worked as a nurse consultant specialising in continence care. During this time I have gained skills and the scope and autonomy to influence practice – placing patients at the very centre of healthcare and hopefully inspire future generations of nurses to come.
What does being a nurse mean to you?
I am incredibly proud to be a nurse. My career journey has been fostered and encouraged by a number of inspirational leaders and they, combined with my exposure to a variety of clinical areas, have allowed me to continuously develop as a nursing professional.
Part of my clinical role involves the provision of direct and indirect care to patients across the Trust and delivering expert practice for patients, carers and colleagues, all underpinned by evidence-based practice.
Working for a Trust which has extremely high standards has helped me to achieve my goals and aspirations to becoming a nurse consultant as well as establishing the Newcastle Specialist Continence Service.
As a nurse consultant you can be pragmatic, creative and embrace care with quality, compassion and commitment.
I am able to influence and shape the nursing contribution within the specialist area of bladder and bowel care both locally and nationally, leading on a wide range of clinical activities and research projects. My experience and achievements were recognised when I received the Chief Nursing Officer for Nursing’s Excellence Silver Award.
What do you love about your job?
Bladder and bowel dysfunction can have a major impact on people’s quality of life. The NHS estimates that between 3-6 million people in the UK suffer with some degree of urinary incontinence.
There are lots of reasons why people experience these symptoms which can be upsetting and affect people’s quality of life, yet there are a number of treatments available which, if followed correctly after an initial assessment can be truly lifechanging.
As a nurse consultant, 50% of my work is clinical, delivering nurse led clinics and leading on the provision of both direct and indirect care for patients across the Trust. This part of my role is incredibly rewarding but I am also very fortunate to be able to divide the remaining 50% focusing on research, education, and service improvement.
This – to me – is what makes the nurse consultant role perfect. It allows you the opportunity to develop service, improve patient care and share learning with others, without compromising time spent delivering patient care.
The Newcastle Specialist Continence Service
Achieving excellence in continence care is essential to enable us to provide assurance that the Newcastle Specialist Continence Service delivers an effective service, promoting continuous improvement through integrated working.
I am very fortunate to work with an amazing team of people. We are a small team, truly dedicated to improving the provision of bladder and bowel care, and because we are a small team, working with and alongside other healthcare teams and providers, we are able to influence, shape and develop patient care.
Most recently the service received the British Journal of Nursing ‘Continence Nurse of the Year’. The whole team felt immense pride to have received this award recognising our passion and motivation to improve the experience for people with urinary incontinence.
This was a true team effort including our wonderful admin staff, with invaluable support from our senior nursing team and quality improvement colleagues who believed in and supported our vision.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
I have so many proud moments, but probably the main ones to mention, being appointed as a nurse specialist which then led me onto the career pathway as a nurse consultant in a role which I thoroughly enjoy.
Receiving the Chief Nursing Officer for Nursing's Excellence Silver award was an extremely proud moment
Plus receiving national awards and recognition in national papers for different aspects of bladder and bowel care which have demonstrated integrated working with other services to promote bladder and bowel health care.
Any future aspirations?
There is still a misconception about bladder and bowel dysfunction and it remains a taboo subject of conversation but further enquiry into understanding how we can encourage people to take care of their bladder and bowel health and support people to make informed choices about their care and to seek advice is required.
We also need to continue to develop and implement quality improvement projects relating to bladder and bowel care and harm free care. To enable this, there must be better investment nationally for bladder and bowel services, focusing on promotion rather than acting reactively to situations.
Any tips for finding a job that you love?
You need to enjoy coming into work and feel that your contribution to health care is being recognised.
What training is needed for your job?
I believe that good skills sets are transferable across healthcare, but an interest and an enquiring mind in bladder and bowel care dysfunction is helpful, as it provides a knowledge and understanding of the specialism. But motivation and proactive working with other teams and services are also required.
Why should someone come and work in your department?
Working in a small team has so many positive advantages in terms of working towards the same set of quality standards.
Each member of the team is respected and their contribution to the service is encouraged; plus, we know how to make sure each day at work is enjoyed.
Smile and say hello… this can open up conversation!