Vijaye remember's her working life

A career in nursing - Hastings BME reminiscence group

By Susan Adey

Photo:Vijaye in nursing uniform

Vijaye in nursing uniform

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Who I am

My name is Vijaye and I was born in Mauritius in 1947.I came to England in 1969 to do nursing in Holloway Psychiatric Hospital as a student nurse.I worked hard until 1972 when I got married in 1973 and I came to Hastings and worked at the Royal East Sussex Hospital until 1990.  At this point I worked with special-needs patients.I had my first child (a daughter) in 1974 and then had my son in 1977.

When I first started nursing everything was manually done whereas now they rely on machinery.

Linguistic confusion

My English was poor when I started but I eventually caught up (even though the English talk too fast which confused me).  I made some mistakes due to the language as the Sister asked me to get a bowl to wash someone and I thought of a big salad bowl (because this is what we call bowl in my language) and the Spanish Sister waved her arms frantically to say no, no a wash-bowl and this story still makes me chuckle.

Times a changin'

Nursing was more loving and giving in my times.  I appreciate that they wish for patients to be independent and I do not feel that there is not enough hands-on care and the Hospital relies on the relatives for the hands-on attention.

Medical mix up

Another incident, when I first reported to be on duty a lady came and shook my hand to say hello and I replied and I thought that she was the nursing officer but it turned out to be a patient and my brothers thought that this was very funny.

An end to nursing

I enjoyed nursing thoroughly and regretted leaving but had to retire on medical grounds.  I would never trade in those days for anything as I had the time of my life and learned a great deal.  It also helped with my English. My pay in those days was £150.00 per month and this included accommodation.  We had to worked over 40 hours per week and it was very exhausting.  This could be up to 60 hours.  I made lots of lovely friends, from different countries.

That's entertainment

The nursing home was very strict and we were not allowed visitors in our rooms, only downstairs in the lounge.We had lots of fun having fancy dress parties and had lots of entertainments, taking the residents out etc. This was one of the best times of my life.

This page was added by Susan Adey on 20/01/2009.

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