Ixworth student nurse separated from young daughter during coronavirus pandemic records touching video tribute
A nursing student separated from her two-year-old daughter while she supports adults with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic has recorded a touching video tribute.
Emily Paterson, of Ixworth, is a third-year learning disability nursing student at the University of East Anglia and has taken a placement as an assessment treatment nurse in Ipswich to provide critical support for adults with disabilities.
However, the potential exposure to Covid-19 posed a risk to her two-year-old daughter Ava, who was born prematurely and had previously shown susceptibility to picking up illnesses more quickly and easily than many children her age.
Her and partner Ben, who is a police officer, made the tough decision to move Ava out of their home to stay with Emily's parents until social distancing measures have been eased.
Emily dropped her off when she started her placement working for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust two weeks ago and since then has only been able to contact Ava via video call.
She said: "There were countless times where we tried to work out ways where we could keep Ava but we decided that it was a risk we couldn’t take.
"It’s been more difficult than I could have imagined – my parents live in Ixworth as well and in some ways that’s made it harder knowing that Ava’s just round the corner and there’s nothing we can do.
"I try to avoid going in her bedroom to keep it out of my mind and I’ve been working as many hours as I can as it’s a good distraction.
"We video call her three times a day, it’s become part of the routine now, and at the moment she’s potty training, so we’re getting regular updates on that. We’re holding out hope that we’ll be allowed to see her in June."
To keep connected with Ava during their time apart, Emily focused her efforts into creating a video as a tribute.
She decided to use sign language to sign along to the tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and enlisted others from her course to join her.
The first person Emily turned to for help was Kirsty Henry, learning disability nursing lecturer at UEA, who has used her Twitter account during the Covid-19 pandemic to share daily signalong videos.
Emily said: “I had this wacky idea so I emailed Kirsty to see what she thought and she said she would support it and we contacted other students on the learning disability nursing course to see if they would help.
"Honestly, I thought there would maybe be a couple who might respond and I couldn’t believe the numbers of people who sent clips back.
"People had to take time to learn the signs and I’m so grateful to all of them – but especially Kirsty who has given me the best support I could have possibly asked for.”
Kirsty added: “Emily is such an inspiration and it really is the ultimate dedication to the profession of nursing to not only put yourself at risk but to have to separate from your young daughter as well.
“It’s hard to imagine the sacrifice that she’s made but when she asked for help, I jumped at the opportunity and I’m so proud that so many of our students decided to contribute too.
"We’re all hoping that Emily and Ava can be reunited as soon as possible.”
Watch the UEA learning disability nursing students’ Somewhere Over The Rainbow signage video by clicking on their Facebook page here.
More by this authorPaul Derrick