Community Specialist Rehabilitation nurse retires after 40 years NHS service

Deborah Wooller

A nurse who has dedicated her career to NHS specialist services including neurological and physical rehabilitation, and stroke early supported discharge across Norfolk and Suffolk, is retiring after more than 40 years’ service.

Deborah Wooller, Head of Specialist Rehabilitation for Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, has spent nearly two thirds of her nursing career working with specialist services which care for those who have suffered a stroke or brain injuries, or following an amputation.

Upon qualifying in 1976, Deborah began working as bank nurse; a role she fit around raising her four daughters.

In 1991, Deborah joined Caroline House, an inpatient unit for specialist neurological rehabilitation, as a staff nurse, and has worked with the service ever since. In addition, she has been responsible for overseeing the Re-enablement Services Centre, which covers Prosthetics and Wheelchair Services.

Deborah’s career has also seen her roll out a Stroke Early Supported Discharge Service in Suffolk, providing patients with an intensive, tailor-made care package which enables them to remain in their own homes following a stroke. This was based on the highly successful model she was already running in Norfolk, and means that more patients are now receiving vital care early on.

“I have always felt very privileged to have been able to have a career that’s been really fulfilling, whilst being able to have a full family life,” said Deborah. “I’ve always found working for NCH&C stimulating, challenging and ultimately rewarding.

“It has given me opportunities to grow and develop and to lead on and support staff with providing high quality, life changing patient care.

“I’m always aware of how lucky I’ve been and I’m very proud to be associated with all of the services I work with; stroke, Colman Hospital, and Re-enablement Services. Any manager of these services would be proud too.”

Well known for her positivity and inspirational leadership among her colleagues, Deborah, who has always been interested to hear the ‘human’ stories and how NCH&C services are meeting the needs of the patients, has never forgotten the true reason why she dedicated so much of her life to helping others:

“It’s my priority to keep patients at the heart of everything I do,” she said. “Patients’ needs are often complex and they don’t fit neatly into any specific criteria.

Through my career I’ve tried to make sure that patients aren’t done to, but are part of who we are and are supported and listened to.

“All my life I feel that I have been driven by an inner will and the opportunities that life offers, and I intend to take some time now to actually think about who I am and what the rest of my life might hold!

“I have a large family and many craft skills but I don’t want to fill my time up too quickly, although I am enjoying the day a week that have already started to spend with my two youngest granddaughters.”

Anna Morgan, NCH&C’s Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “Deborah is an excellent nurse role model and has been a pleasure to know and work with.

“She is supportive, kind, caring, proactive, brave and highly professional. She will take a problem away and really think about how it can be solved and always comes back with several very workable options.

“Deborah has developed her services and people using her excellent leadership skills. Many of the innovative initiatives generated have been within her services, which have an excellent reputation regionally.

“She will be missed, however I am thankful that she has remained committed to the Trust for so long and that she will leave us to enjoy the joys of her retirement and all that brings.”

As part of her retirement, Deborah is looking forward to travelling, which includes plans to visit San Francisco, where one of her daughters is currently based.

“I feel as though there is a big world out there both physically and metaphorically and I want to embrace it!” Deborah laughed.

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