Staff Stories: Fiona Le Ber
Mr Le Cornu is a proud Jersey man who was left devastated in 2014 when a sudden bout of diverticulitis turned into a perforated colon. This in turn led to a colostomy. Before this unexpected turn, he was active and generally in good health; regularly walking Haggis, his Highland Terrier.
Following his illness, Mr Le Cornu became almost completely housebound; unwilling to talk to friends or family about such a sensitive subject and too embarrassed to leave his home in case he had ‘an accident’.
Then he met Fiona, and she changed his life. Fiona Le Ber wanted to be a nurse since she was three years old. Today she is in King Street, handing out toilet rolls packaged with awareness raising information about Bowel Cancer. “What does your poo say about you?” she laughs as she hands out the rolls to passers-by.
As the only community Continence and Stoma Nurse in Jersey, Fiona is not shy about discussing sensitive matters and she is the first port of call for patients like Mr Le Cornu.
For Mr Le Cornu, she was a tonic. “After surgery I was faced with the prospect of a life with a stoma,” he said, “A very daunting and embarrassing situation to be in. Especially someone like me because I’ve always been so independent. Fiona was a great help. It was such a relief to be able to talk openly about my stoma and get advice and help from someone who understands what I’m going through.”
That’s because Fiona has seen it all before.
Fiona worked for 17 years at Jersey General Hospital. As a staff nurse she worked on medical/medical assessment unit for 12 years and endoscopy for 5 years before moving to the community where she was District nurse for St. Peter for 4 years then deputy sister for the town team for 9months. She is currently studying for a Stoma and Urology Degree with the University of Ulster. She is committed to improving the quality of life for patients in Jersey with continence problems and stomas.
Fiona works closely with urology and colorectal colleagues at the hospital and meets them on a regular basis. She also supports district nurses and care home staff and teaches FNHC staff to care for patients with continence problems, as well as developing policies, procedures and guidelines. Last year FNHC's generous supporters funded two portable bladder scanners. These have made a huge difference to the lives of many patients by making diagnosis quicker and easier for nurses.
“I see people when they often have embarrassing problems,” she said “some people have lost all confidence and have a poor quality of life. But often simple alterations to diet or medication can resolve an incontinence issue. And a simple review of a stoma and a discussion about new stoma pouches can make an enormous difference to a person’s life.”
Mr Le Cornu is delighted that his independence has been restored, Fiona has managed to help him regain confidence caring for his stoma and he is no longer afraid to go out. Haggis is pretty pleased too.