Skills for Work Award
When the pandemic hit, Jenna Smith, was based in a hospital in a hospital working as a Clinical Health Support Worker, having achieved a Level 2 Clinical Health Diploma. The ward she was working on was turned into a High Dependency Unit for Covid-19 patients: “It was a very challenging time. To see patients so unwell and in distress was very difficult. I always had to prepare myself for a worst-case scenario shift.
The second wave of Covid-19 was much more intense for us. We had a full ward of 23 patients requiring around the clock care and we had incredibly tragic losses.” Working 12-hour shifts and in full PPE and an airtight mask, Jenna worked in an extremely difficult environment. It was during the second wave that both her parents fell ill and were admitted to hospital on the same day; her mother requiring emergency surgery. The nurses on the ward quickly realised that Jenna had huge potential. Under their supervision, she was given more responsibility, supporting those with severe breathing difficulties, her colleagues urged her to become a qualified nurse.
“Looking back, I think they gave me more responsibility to nudge me forward to become a nurse. It felt good to be able to help the patients more. My ward manager and the nurses have been incredibly supportive, and it meant I could
step up at a really difficult time. I’ve never been someone who has had a lot of confidence in myself or in what I could do. After the stress and trauma of the pandemic.” Jenna suffered a breakdown: “I was very anxious and started to suffer flashbacks of patients we’d sadly lost. I was crying uncontrollably.” Taking time off work, Jenna continued studying towards her Level 3 Clinical Health Diploma.
Returning to work, she completed that qualification and started university: “I’m really looking forward to working as a qualified nurse alongside the nurses who inspired me. They really are one of a kind.” Jenna spent five years working as a chef, she says, “I decided I didn’t want to spend my days in a kitchen by myself. I wanted to help people and offer a service that was lifechanging. It’s really changed me, I make good, quick connections with patients.” She is currently
studying for a nursing degree with the Open University and is on placement with the Community District Nursing Team.
Natalie Williams from ACT Training supported Jenna through her Diplomas and has seen her progress: “I have known Jenna a long time. She always goes above and beyond and puts everyone first. Covid was a very difficult time for her, but she never let it stop her because she is so determined to achieve and to give something back.”