Much-loved Outpatients Matron Joan Dyer retired yesterday (Thursday 24 March) after 19 years with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and feeling full of pride for her work in establishing and Chairing its BAME Shared Decision-Making Council.
Colleagues from Outpatients and the BAME Council ensured she had a good send off and spoke warmly about the difference she has made to so many people’s lives during her time in Walsall – to staff and patients alike.
Many spoke of their love for her and recalled numerous occasions when she has supported them through difficult times.
Angela Cope, Vice Chair of the BAME Council, said: “You are so loved Joan, by so many people, and we are so proud of everything you have achieved.”
Through her role as Chair of the BAME Council Joan has been instrumental in helping the Trust to ensure its Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues were supported to have their COVID-19 vaccinations; helping to organise special sessions to help allay their fears and ensure they had accurate information to make an informed choice. She has also overseen an international nurses buddying system set up with the Trust’s Well Wishers charity.
Joan’s nursing aspirations started early. She was only seven years old and watching medical soap opera General Hospital on TV when she turned to her mum and said: “That’s what I want to do.”
She knew she wanted to go into nursing as a career and had some experience of caring for others due to her mum’s ill health. At one point the family GP, who Joan has built up a good relationship with, had told her mum: “She’s going to be a Matron.” And how true those words were to become!
When Joan turned 18 she weighed up two career choices; nursing and the police and had to decide which application she was going to see through. Nursing won and Joan was accepted at East Birmingham Hospital as it was at the time – it’s now the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – to do her training.
Joan enjoyed heart and lung care and did her thoracic training in Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, before working as an ITU Sister back at the QE and accepting a Sister position at Great Charles Street Hospital in the city.
Joan’s mum sadly passed away and she admits that caused her to stop and reflect asking herself: “What am I going to do?”
Shortly afterwards she spotted an advert in the Nursing Times for a Matron in Walsall.
“The tone of the advert was all about bringing back the modern Matron with an emphasis on quality and patient journey and experience and it really resonated with me,” said Joan.
“The interview was so, so tough I remember. I got home, ate a doughnut and went to the gym and when I got back the phone rang and it was a member of the interview panel. She asked how I thought it went and I honestly thought I was getting feedback and being told I was unsuccessful on this occasion – but I had got the job. I was so surprised!”
During Joan’s Matron career she has worked in the Division of Surgery.
“Being a Matron – and a black Matron – is a real privilege and I also like to think I am a role model for other staff to achieve their goals and aspirations,” said Joan. “I want staff to see someone like me and think: “Yes, I could do that too.
“Staff are our biggest asset and we have some absolutely fantastic colleagues here at Walsall Healthcare. We just need to help them to shine and ensure they have access to the same opportunities as everyone else. It is also important that our patients are cared for by people who are representative of their communities.”
In her spare time, Joan loves baking – taught well by her mum – going to the gym, meeting friends and doing home renovation projects. She is going to enjoy a break but will return to the Trust on a part time basis.