Bridget Read worked as a paramedic on ambulances for eighteen years before changing roles four years ago, becoming a paramedic in the community, attached to two Felixstowe surgeries. Married with two children, she lives in Kesgrave and the family is also very involved in sport, including Felixstowe parkrun. What is her role as a community paramedic?
“There is an increasing elderly population who can’t get to the surgery and there are less GP’s available, so we paramedics go into the community and assist the doctors with home visits. We have two roles really. One is to deal with the people who are acutely unwell, who don’t need a 999 ambulance say for a chest pain, but they have increased breathlessness or an infection, and then we do the long-term care management of people with life-limiting conditions such as cancer and heart failure. The majority of people I see are aged between 80 and 100 years old. There are two of us, me and Jo, and so patients get continuity of care. They know it will be once or other of us and we know their history. It’s very comforting for them."
"Felixstowe is such an amazing community with surgeries, district nurses and Felixstowe General Hospital, all working together. Members of the public in Covid-times provided amazing support for the housebound too, collecting prescriptions and shopping … and that’s where I think the Compassionate Community can really help.
Now life is getting back to normal, I think it’s important to continue looking out for people in your neighbourhood. We’ve experienced now what it is like not to be able to go out – imagine that’s been you for the last five or six years! Giving them ten minutes or pick up the phone for a chat, goes a really long way to make that person feel valued.
Don’t ever be frightened to speak to them, even if you know they are frail and elderly, or have had that diagnosis. Don’t avoid them but take it as an opportunity to visit and help them feel ‘normal’.”