District nurse Maria Betts, a parishioner of All Saints’, Antrim, features in a current BBC1 NI series ‘Nurses,’ and we see Maria at work in tonight’s episode (Wednesday November 30).
The new four-part observational series gains unprecedented access to nurses across a wide variety of health settings and disciplines in Health and Social Care. Filmed over 12 months, it gives viewers an insight into the health service in Northern Ireland through the eyes of these nurses as they share their experiences caring for patients.
Maria is married to Peter and they have two children, Austin (12) and Charlotte (10). The family have been members of All Saints’ since 2010 and both children were baptised in the church. Charlotte sings in the parish choir, and Maria is a leader at the Funday Club and Next Steps.
Maria started her nursing career 20 years ago after working as a nursing auxiliary for three years. She qualified with a diploma from Queen’s University in 2003 and completed her degree the following year.
In 2019, Maria obtained a specialist practice qualification in district nursing and took up the post of District Nursing Sister in Antrim. She also completed a Masters’ Degree in Nursing in 2020.
“The District Nurse role is vast and complex,” says Maria. “I oversee the caseload and manage staff.” The biggest challenge in recent times, she says, has been Covid-19 which had a massive impact on the role.
“Where other services stepped down, district nursing stepped forward and filled gaps. Where shielding patients may have previously gone to treatment rooms or other appointments, we visited with them at home,” she explains.
The role has its rewards too. “Having one patient in the day tell me how valued nurses are is very heart-warming and makes it easy to get up in the mornings,” Maria says.
“I have a passion for palliative care. I lost my own mum when I was 18 and some aspects of her care were amazing and some less so. I strive to be an advocate for palliative care patient to ensure they have access and receive the highest quality care they deserve.”
Maria’s dedication to her work was recognised when she obtained the title of ‘Queen’s Nurse’ in 2021 – a title given to individual nurses who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient care and nursing practice.”
Her faith is very important to her. “My faith in God drives me every day,” Maria says. “It’s a challenging job and some days it’s hard to leave the feeling at the ‘garden gate,’ but I have a loving family at home and an even larger family in All Saints’ which help me to remain strong. Not all patients have the same belief, but I can provide a listening ear which they can confide in.”
Maria agreed to take part in the BBC NI production at the request of her management team. “I thought it was a great opportunity to showcase district nursing, as it plays a key role for delivery a safe service of care to those in their own homes and care homes,” Maria says.
‘Nurses’ is on BBC1 at 10.55pm tonight (Wednesday), repeated on Tuesday December 6 at 10pm and this episode and all previous episodes can be watched on the BBC iPlayer.