Vivid tributes to leader in mental health nursing after sudden death

An accomplished mental health nurse and nursing leader who worked to “improve service” has passed away suddenly at the age of 56.

Elaine Thompson, who was most recently acting chief nurse for quality and contracts at the NHS East Leicestershire and the Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), died on October 22, just two days before her 57th birthday.

Her husband of 32 years, Laurence Thompson, said Breastfeeding time Ms Thompson’s cause of death was unclear, but she was diagnosed with ischemic heart disease and suffered from seizures before she died.

Ms Thompson had retired from nursing just a year before her death, after nearly 40 years of work as a nurse.

“There are these people you work with and they leave and you think ‘I don’t remember who they are’, with Elaine it’s not like that”

Marianne Cole

Six weeks before her death, Ms Thompson had had a seizure at home and several seizures in hospital and was fitted with a pacemaker. She was released from the hospital and her family and friends thought she would be fine until the shocking news arrived.

Mr Thompson said the couple, who lived together in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, had planned to travel the world for their retirement, “she had wanted to visit Iceland, Canada, Alaska and Japan”.

He described her as “full of life, full of energy, really bubbly, really smart”.

The dynamic of their marriage had been that she was the loveseat and Mr. Thompson the listener.

“She had a brain that never stopped or was silent,” he said.

Ms Thompson met her husband in December 1988 and they were married in September 1989. They shared a love for mythical creatures, putting together a collection of dragons and wizarding figurines displayed in a specially designed cabinet in their home, as well as statues of dragons. decorate their garden.

Before getting married, on a day trip to Broadway in the Cotswolds, Mr Thompson spotted a dragon and a wizard figurine in a shop window and Ms Thompson said she would not have been disturbed to have them. Later, Mr. Thompson went back to the store and bought them for her as a wedding present and it grew from there.

Elaine Thompson and her dog Merlin

Ms Thompson’s career began in 1982 at Barnsley Hall Hospital where she trained as a student nurse. It was a mental institution in Worcestershire and his father was the hospital administrator.

“She kind of had it in her DNA,” said Ms. Thompson’s sister Alison Tedstone.

Ms Thompson was 17 when she started at Barnsley Hall. By 2013, she had worked her way up the chain to become Assistant Head Nurse and then Assistant Head Nurse at Birmingham CrossCity CCG.

She has also served as Head of Nursing, Care Transformation and Mental Health at NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, and Head of Quality and Safety at NHS England for the Birmingham region, Solihull and Black Country.

Ms Tedstone explained how their father did not want his daughter to enter nursing and especially mental health nursing.

“In these large mental hospitals there were quite often attacks on nurses,” she said. “He didn’t think she would be safe working there.”

Ms Tedstone even said at first that Ms Thompson was the “tomboy” and that she herself was the “primitive”, which annoyed her sister.

She added, “She’s more talented artistically than I am. Elaine is one of those irritating people who could dedicate herself to doing things.

“She learned to do crafts and sewing on her own. She was musical, she played guitar, she could sing, and she learned to play keyboards on her own.”

In addition to traveling the world, Ms. Thompson had wanted to compete on Mastermind.

Her sister said that “if she wanted to do something, she would go do it”.

The two sisters fought in childhood and early adulthood, but came together when it was time to care for their parents; their father first died in 2016 at the age of 91, then their mother suffering from dementia and currently in a retirement home. The sisters chose her retirement home together and both oversaw her care.

“My sister has always been there for me and I have always been there for her,” Ms. Tedstone said.

“She was musical, she played guitar, she could sing, and she learned to play keyboards herself”

Alison tedstone

Early in her retirement, at age 55, Ms. Thompson began working to keep her mind active. She worked on a project in Leicester for a former boss Manjeet Garcha and then on another short-term contract for the NHS Coventry & Warwickshire CCG. Ms Thompson had been with the project for several weeks when she died.

Mrs Garcha said Breastfeeding time Ms. Thompson would never bow to say “oh, I can’t do that”.

“She started to work more and the week she was spent she sat on a virtual absence day that we organized, and she was normal herself,” Ms. Garcha said.

“It was absolutely the most shocking news that two days after the day away we lost her. She’s not just a loss as a friend and colleague, it’s a huge loss for health. She wasn’t the type to say that’s it. I’m done. She was a wonderful caregiver, sister and friend. “

She added: “She was totally selfless and totally dedicated, one of those people who just got her, you didn’t have to explain too much to her, she added so much more, she went above and beyond what you asked him to do, going beyond the service line.

“As a mental health nurse she brought that extra thought, she would bring holistic thinking to anything that was great because it’s not always obvious to others.”

Many other former colleagues of Ms Thompson wanted to pay tribute to them and reflect on the work, support and help she had given them.

Marianne Cole, warden at Bushey Fields Hospital in Dudley, where Ms Thompson had worked, said: ‘There are these people you work with and they leave and you think’ I don’t remember who they are “, with Elaine it’s not like that.

“She was a big girl with a big character. She always had a story to tell. Her memory of things, she was like an encyclopedia, she was able to click on stuff right away. I refuse anyone to dislike Elaine. , to have met her and not committed. “

Ms Cole said, which was a role model, that Ms Thompson acted as a mentor and was largely the reason Ms Cole was where she is now in her career.

“Even when I had hard times at home, hard times in a personal way, she helped me and she guided me and she told me again; for her, that was what she enjoyed. To”

Jasvinder Chopra Povall

“I started using her as a clinical supervisor, the best I could do, all the worries I had, how I could develop further, and she would still be really on that. The world lost a precious person. “

Reflecting on her friend’s death, Sheila Sievewright, an occupational therapist, spoke at length about her friend and former colleague, highlighting the years they had worked together at Burton Road Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands , in the 1990s.

She described the time, patience and innovative ways in which Ms. Thompson cared for patients, never being patronizing and always taking the time to understand their needs.

“She was just showing enthusiasm in everything and thinking outside the box. She was like, ‘Well why don’t we try that way’ and I thought, ‘Oh no, that won’t work’, but generally made.”

Mrs Sievewright said Breastfeeding time about the group, Validation, which Ms Thompson created, for patients with dementia, to defuse difficult situations between patients and nurses and to help nurses understand how the patient was feeling.

The news of Ms Thompson’s death came as a shock to Ms Sievewright who had maintained contact since meeting in the 1990s.

“She and her husband were with me five days before her death, she brought me a birthday present and an exquisite homemade card which was very typical behavior for her, always thinking of others, despite a recent operation. cardiac, ”Ms. Sievewright said. .

She had disapproved of Mrs. Thompson’s work during her recovery. “We were all texting her saying, ‘Don’t you dare, you’re supposed to be resting’ and she said, ‘Oh no, it’s okay, I’m going to work at home, I’m not overdoing it’. .

Ms Sievewright was so saddened that Ms Thompson never reached her 57th birthday.

She explained the degree of responsibility assumed by Ms Thompson, which she would not recognize.

“Over the past six months, Elaine has had a lot of changes to adapt to and priorities to juggle; job changes, semi-retirement, support and organization of the move of two relatives in an institution, the loss of their dear dog Merlin; all of this must have had an impact on her, ”she said.

Jasvinder Chopra-Povall, acting divisional director of quality and nursing, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS trust, a role she has held for two years, said Ms Thompson had helped her get it.

“This is something that she helped and supported me in, in the interviews that took place she always said ‘you can do it’,” Ms. Chopra-Povall said.

“Even when I had hard times at home, hard times in a personal way, she helped me and she guided me and she told me again; for her, that was what she liked.”

On the week of her death, Ms Chopra-Povall had told Ms Thompson how she had done so much for people, she replied “‘this is what makes me the most’, these are her words,” said Ms Chopra-Povall.

Reflecting on the time she spent with Ms Thompson as a manager, she said, “She had the kind of ability to step back and let you do it, because you had to do it and you had to learn. If I kept asking her “Elaine, can you help me, can you help me?” She recognized him and pulled back and just let me do it.

“She had the ability to give the reins and really trust me and she did it, it was great that she had enough confidence in my ability to do that, and she saw me grow up. something we joked about afterward, she knew what she was doing. “

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