One year ago, Kerry Reynolds became Headway's first acute trauma support nurse based in the North East of the country.
Working within the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, Kerry provides emotional and practical support to families and carers in the early stages after brain injury. Here, she tells us what she has learnt in her first year in the role, the challenges she has faced along the way and why she loves her job so much.
"The role of the HATS nurses is new and unique. I work as part of the hospital team, attending meetings and going on ward rounds, representing Headway in an acute clinical setting.
"Being a HATS nurse is so rewarding. I'm able to give one-on-one support to family members all along the brain injury pathway and it makes such a difference.
"I enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life, young and old, whether it's brain injury survivors and their families or medical professionals and staff. Although it has been a challenge to get to know so many people.
"Families can get upset after a visit and they'll need someone to talk to. Every day is different, and it's certainly never boring.
"The most inspiring aspect of my job is seeing how the families cope. We support people at the acute stage but it's also important to support people after discharge.
"Recovery is a continuous journey that doesn't stop when the patient leaves hospital. The more I meet people the more I realise the transition from hospital to home is huge change.
"That's why I set up the neuro rehab clinics, where discharged patients and their families meet with me at the hospital so I can continue to support them after they have left the hospital.
"Although there are other services out there for them, a familiar face makes them feel at ease and less anxious. I really look forward to those sessions.
"I want to support as many people as possible but there's only one of me and it's a huge major trauma unit. People go on so many different routes through their brain injury pathway and I can't always catch them right at the start of their journey.
"I know there are more people out there. I know the devastation brain injury can cause. It's life changing and it affects a lot of young people. It would be great if we had more HATS nurses.
"I love my job and I'm excited about the year ahead. It's only when you stop to think about what you've done in the past year that you realise what you've achieved, and hopefully, all of the people you've been able to support."
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