Nurse retires after 43 years

Helen Simpson (fourth right) with colleagues and friends
Helen Simpson (fourth right) with colleagues and friends

A nurse who dedicated her career to improving the lives of others has retired after more than four decades.

Helen Simpson, a community stroke rehabilitation nurse for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, held a farewell party this week.

She worked for the NHS for 43 years in total.

Helen started her career as a nurse cadet at Hastings School of Nursing where she qualified as a special registered nurse, working at the Royal East Sussex Hospital.

Following a brief spell in Swindon in Wiltshire, she returned to Eastbourne in the late 1970s where elderly care was changing at an extraordinary pace with the new idea and concept of multidisciplinary team working. This meant a holistic approach to better understand the patient as an individual, enabling them to have the best possible chances of rehabilitation and returning to a state of independent or assisted living. This new way of working was becoming recognised worldwide with Hastings, Eastbourne and Helen at the forefront.

In 1978, Helen was appointed sister at All Saints Hospital and was to open one of the first ever stroke rehabilitation units in the country.

In 2003, she obtained a first class honours degree in professional practice in gerontology. Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of aging.

It is distinguished from geriatrics, which is the branch of medicine that specialises in the treatment of existing disease in older people.

In 2006, Helen joined the then newly-established Hastings community stroke team, working at the Conquest Hospital, on The Ridge. It subsequently moved to the Irvine Unit at Bexhill Hospital where the community stroke rehabilitation team is still based.

Colleague and friend Jacqui Hinves, from the stroke team, said: “Helen has been an integral and inordinate part of the history of stroke management and rehabilitation as it is known and recognised today. Helen has dedicated her professional career to improving her patients, their carers and colleagues’ lives.”

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust provides hospital and community services throughout the county at the Conquest and Eastbourne DGH, as well as at hospitals in Bexhill, Crowborough, Lewes, Rye and Uckfield and a number of clinics and health centres.