Katrina heads for retirement after 42 years

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The Oban Times is running a series of articles championing the work carried out by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) in the Oban, Lorn and the Isles locality. Each article features a specific service provided by the HSCP and focuses on the staff who provide that service and the role they play in making a positive difference for the people living in Oban and surrounding areas. This week we look at the work of specialist respiratory nurse Katrina Flannigan.

Katrina Flannigan, specialist respiratory nurse at Lorn and Islands Hospital, is retiring next month after 42 years of service at the hospital. She originally moved to Oban for a summer job from Essex and has worked there for the entirety of her career.

She will be replaced by respiratory nurse Marion Fisher, who has 20 years of nursing experience. Both professionals have been working very closely in preparation of Marion taking over Katrina’s role to ensure continuity of coordination of care and services.

Katrina said: ‘I have had a wonderful time working at Lorn and Islands Hospital. I have had the pleasure of working with so many dedicated nursing staff, health and social care professionals, and patients throughout Argyll and Bute.

‘Over my years of service, many colleagues have become close friends. They are all wonderful people and I will miss so many of my colleagues and patients dearly.’

Katrina’s colleagues also shared kind words about her dedication to patient care and are also looking forward to enjoying some celebration activities with Katrina.

Caroline Henderson, Lorn and Islands Hospital manager, said: ‘Katrina, throughout her career and current role of respiratory nurse specialist, has remained committed and dedicated to patients.

‘She has shown immense commitment to developing and delivering better services throughout Argyll and Bute and within the hospital. Even in the past few weeks, while she’s been preparing to retire, Katrina has worked closely with other clinical teams and supported Marion Fisher the new respiratory nurse to put together plans to further improve our services to help us continue to provide excellent respiratory patient care.’

When Katrina qualified as a registered nurse, she went to work at Lorn and Islands hospital. She continued to study and graduated in 2007 with a degree in respiratory care and has continued to study at master’s level in specialist respiratory care.

Respiratory nurses provide the highest quality of nursing care to inpatient and community patients. They are trained specialists who are committed to providing a high standard of individualised patient-centred care, through effective assessment, planning and delivery. They also provide care on emergency and planned admissions.

They care for patients requiring more intensive monitoring, including specialised care for patients in the acute stage of their hospital admission through to discharge and promote self-management of conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and asthma.

Respiratory nurses visit housebound and care home patients and are trained to assess patients’ needs for equipment provision, including working closely with other clinical professionals to provide mobility and independent living aids.

Katrina also provides education for doctors and nurses to promote excellent respiratory care. The training helps to reduce hospital admissions, exacerbation of conditions, helps to support early discharge from hospital and increases referrals to health and social care professional services.

She also provides an In Reach service at the hospital, which helps to prevent unnecessary admission following A&E treatment by ensuring that patients, particularly older people and those with disabilities, receive the right community health and social care they need at home, as soon as they leave hospital care.

Katrina is very proud of setting up the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme throughout Argyll and Bute. It includes individually tailored exercise programmes, as well as self-help education such as healthier lifestyles and self-managing respiratory conditions. Part of the programme addresses the impact of COPD on patients’ physical abilities, psychological health and relationships.

Katrina added: ‘Early intervention and detection is critical to patients with lung conditions. For patients with COPD, it could potentially slow disease progress and minimise harm. My role is very important to deliver respiratory education, action/care plans, and deliver complex interventions to help patients to focus on pulmonary rehabilitation, self-care and treatment.

‘Self-management also increases patients’ skills and confidence, empowering the individual to take an active part in their disease management. Self-care is so important and really beneficial, as this significantly helps patients improve and lead a healthier, happier and better quality of life.’

Katrina has always been enthusiastic and motivated. She works in busy medical environments and community settings with a high turnover of patients. She also works closely with a range of health and social care professionals to plan and implement care through constructive time management and prioritisation of skills.

Winter is the most challenging time of year for respiratory nurses caring for people living with lung and breathing conditions. Patients turn up to emergency departments in record numbers because they struggle to manage their condition at home. This leaves the respiratory nurses at the heart of winter pressures and increases people requiring specialist respiratory care and hospital admission.

Katrina said: ‘Winter months are more difficult to manage long-term conditions and for this reason I would recommend people speak to their GPs or health care professionals for advice on whether they should have the flu vaccine.’

The vaccines offered each winter flu season, which lasts from October to March. The flu vaccine is routinely given on the NHS to anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, children and adults with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease), children and adults with weakened immune systems, and children aged from two to 17 at risk of flu.

Katrina will remain living in Oban, where she married and raised her family, saying: ‘Oban is my home.’

She loves the rural lifestyle and being part of part of a small, close-knit community.

Katrina continued: ‘I am prepared for retirement and really am looking forward to living out my long-held dreams, and finally putting my retirement plans in place. I also intend to relax more, and spend more quality time with family and friends.’