Chris, Nurse Practitioner: Vital Signs

Chris Paynter, Nurse Practitioner

Chris Paynter, Nurse Practitioner

Professor Duncan with Chris

Professor Duncan with Chris, following his on site epilepsy clinic in February

Chris during a client clinic with Dr Simons

Chris during a client clinic with Dr Simons

10 May 2022

Recently Nurse Practitioner, Chris Paynter, found himself centre stage when we asked for donations at our concert at Glyndebourne to fund his vital role, along with that of our Health Care Co-Ordinator. These two key roles at The Meath are not covered by statutory funding. The brief video that we shared on stage during the concert seemed to capture the hearts and minds of the audience. However, it is safe to say that there is a lot more to Chris and the role of Nurse Practitioner at The Meath that could be fitted into the short film. With so much left on the cutting room floor, and a great deal of progress made with this new role, Chris was an obvious choice for a follow up blog feature.

Chris joined as Nurse Practitioner in December, a role which was to encompass that of our former Epilepsy Nurse, but which had a broader, more holistic remit. On paper it seemed a hugely demanding and stretching role, how could one person take on the responsibilities of a past role but take on so much more (albeit with the support of our fantastic Health Care Coordinator Megan and other colleagues)? The answer became clear after meeting with him; and since then, Chris’s role has crystalised, with plans evolving into action across The Meath.

An insightful 30-minute introduction back in December, made clear that Chris’s ability to provide a more holistic approach across The Meath as Nurse Practitioner, would be down to a combination of skills and qualities; problem solving, networking and enviable levels of energy and enthusiasm. Chris explained his background; a long and eclectic story which spans the globe and pretty much every industry imaginable. From New Zealand to Cuba, the stage to the Army, Fire Fighting to A & E and Midwifery, the impressive list at first glance doesn’t smack of a typical career path, but the roles and life journey behind them do have one thing in common; they are all very hard to do successfully unless you are a people person.

More recently, in 2018 Chris started working in Surrey in a Complex Care Centre, a role which introduced him to patients with acquired brain injuries, epilepsy and other neurological conditions. This experience, and through friends and colleagues at Young Epilepsy, led Chris to hear about The Meath and his interest was sparked. It seemed an ideal field for me to work in as it would use a wide range of experience in neurology, disability, behaviour and epilepsy”.

Having benefitted from a useful handover period with former Epilepsy Nurse Annie, Chris has been working closely with the wider Health Care Team. Joined up thinking and communication are key to Chris being able to provide the best service possible. “I began by getting to know the people we support and staff by visiting the residential services. It’s also useful to be based in the Skills Centre as quite often the most useful observation I make about one of the people we support is when they are in a relaxed group setting, rather ‘having the nurse visit them at home’”.

Having made inroads in networking within The Meath residential services and by working with colleagues in Physio and OT, Chris has set up a variety of new clinics in Women’s Health, nutrition, Mental Health and Wellbeing and Supportive Activates of Daily Living. He also continues to work closely with Dr Simons from the Mill Medical Practice.

Chris is also acutely aware of The Meath’s vital need for an outward looking approach. He explained “I want to ensure that we continue to build our profile and working relationships within the specialist neurological field. The benefits of doing so are numerous, it will help us to strengthen links with specialist consultants, enable the people we support to take part in research trials, and I aim to introduce Nursing student work placements. While the best possible care for the people we support is my primary concern, by increasing the profile of The Meath, the charity will also benefit from consultants recommending the care setting to their clients and student placements will help us to attract ambitious, newly qualified staff.”

In between clinics, pharmacy vigilance, referral to outside agencies, including hospital admission, liaison with Meath staff and family members, Chris is keen to reach out to key contacts. “I visited The VNS clinic at Kings College London where I observed the VNS Epilepsy Nurse and they also come to The Meath to provide the VNS Clinic on site which is great. My role is a continuation of Annie Parker’s excellent work and I hope to further extend networking with Neurologists and Epilepsy nurses.”

A key highlight for Chris was welcoming Professor Duncan, Professor of Neurology, at University College London to The Meath for a clinic.

“It worked so well, and it had such obvious benefits for the people we support and their family members. As well as being a highly esteemed and eminent Consultant Neurologist, Professor Duncan was brilliant with the people we support. Huge thanks to Professor Duncan for visiting us and to Annie Parker, Epilepsy Nurse for arranging the visit”.

For much of the past two years, networking has not been possible and indeed the pandemic required focus on successfully supporting residents to maintain the best possible physical and mental health throughout the pandemic and lockdowns. Now, with restrictions eased, Chris can re-connect with past contacts. “I visited Young Epilepsy in Lingfield and met some of the staff and visited the resident’s houses. I was pleased to meet the Lead Epilepsy Nurse and we hope to run some joint study days and to have further liaison to support the smooth transition of students from Young Epilepsy to their new adult care setting at The Meath.”

In April, Melika, a 2nd year student nurse at University College London undertook a two-week placement. This small litmus test for future student placements was a resounding success. “Melika was able to support my role and the wider Meath team and residents were pleased to get to know a new, friendly face who took an interest in them.”

While continuity of care is vital, clearly student work placements can play an important role in supporting the work of the Health Care team to enhance the service and experience for residents. A happy side effect may be that by attracting students for work placements, some may well consider staying at The Meath in employment.

While Chris has made huge inroads since this pivotal new role began in December, clearly there is huge scope for further developments and achievements. Despite an impressive wealth of professional knowledge, experience, and strong networking skills, perhaps it will be one last remaining quality in his arsenal of skills which will fuel this growth in the long run, his energy. This, combined with good humour and a genuine desire to provide the very best care for the remarkable and wonderful people who live at The Meath.

“Today is first day I have got up and got dressed after returning from hospital, I was very ill. I have been feeling very low and tired, but Chris gave me some advice which helped me. He said to try to take part in something I enjoy today and slowly I can try to do more.” Meath resident