Meet the nurse who helps get some of the most complex patients back home

When Angela Beckett was 19 and working in a care home in Southport, she discovered her passion for working with older people.

At that same care home, she was told by her manager that she didn’t have what it takes to become a nurse.

If her former manager was watching this week’s episode of Hospital on BBC2, they will have seen how wrong they were.

Angela was shown comforting the wife of 70 year old John, a patient with vascular dementia who had been waiting several weeks for a care home to become available before he could be discharged from Aintree University Hospital, where he was admitted after a fall.

The episode showed the challenges faced by hospitals across the country in discharging patients who are medically fit but who have multiple complex requirements that must be addressed before they can safely leave hospital. This means they remain in a hospital bed when they have no clinical reason for being there.

After being spurred on by her care home manager’s lack of faith in her abilities, Angela went on to complete an apprenticeship, City & Guilds qualification and an NVQ before being accepted to study nursing at Edge Hill University.

Angela, who lives in Bootle with her husband and two children, said: “That manager did me a favour. I was really motived by proving her wrong and showing her what I could do, and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved.”

Now 44, Angela started working at Aintree University Hospital in 1999 as a student nurse.

After more than a decade nursing patients on the wards, she became a Discharge Co-ordinator, a role she has held for the last eight years.

The role sees Angela working with colleagues to ensure patients – many of whom will have complex needs even after they leave hospital - can be discharged safely.

She said: “It’s different from hands-on nursing but it is a very demanding job. There are seven of us and each day between us we attend meetings on all of the wards to discuss the patients who are ready for discharge. We’ll start putting plans in place for any assessments they need or adaptations that have to be made to their home. Each of us can be working on discharge plans for up to 30 patients who are medically fit and no longer need to be in hospital.

“If we’ve got you fit and well again, the last place you want to be is in a hospital surrounded by sick people, where there’s an increased risk of you catching an infection that sends us all back to square one. It’s far better to be back home or in an environment that is appropriate for your needs.”

In a scene that will have had many viewers reaching for the tissues, Angela could be seen comforting John’s wife, Sandy, who until his admission to hospital had cared for him for six years with only support from her family.

She said: “John had a lot of needs and not every patient is so complex, but Sandy had done an incredible job looking after him. It can be difficult when you reach that point of realising you can’t manage alone any more, but we’re here to help. I’ve shed a tear with many families but I was determined not to cry on telly!”

Angela says she wanted to take part in the programme so the public can better understand the complexities of getting patients discharged from hospital.

She said: “There’s a lot in the media about bed blocking and super stranded patients. I’m really not a fan of this language because it can make patients who have legitimate needs feel like a burden. From the outside it probably seems like an easy issue to solve but it isn’t and I hope the programme helps people understand that.”