An “amazing” nurse is the third generation of her family to work in healthcare – and has even brought her mum to tears with her caring nature.
Mum Julie Layton, 51, is Senior Sister and Ward Manager at Hollybank House Stroke Rehabilitation Unit in Willenhall.
Daughter Christina Layton, 27, is a Senior Sister and Manager of Fairoak Ward at Cannock Chase Hospital, part of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT), Walsall Healthcare’s partner, caring for the rehabilitation of both trauma and orthopaedic patients and elderly care and stroke patients. Julie’s mum Joy Hope, 78, was a carer at Grangemoor House Nursing Home in Burntwood.
The career paths of Christina and Julie even crossed when they briefly worked together at Fairoak and West Park Rehabilitation Hospital.
And that time working together provided a proud – if emotional – moment for Julie. “I have walked out of a ward crying because of the caring nature that Christina has shown,” said Julie.
Julie, who has been in her job since April this year, used to be a senior care worker in social services for Staffordshire County Council in Lichfield – actually line-managing her mum Joy – before turning to nursing in 2010, qualifying in 2013.
It’s clear mum and daughter are as close as they are proud of each other. They live together in Burntwood, with youngest daughter, student Emillie, who is 17 this week. Older brother Damian, 30, is an AA mechanic.
“Christina wanted to be a nurse from primary school age,” recalled Julie. “If any of the family weren’t feeling too good, Christina would take over.
“Then when she started her nurse training, she went on placement to Fairoak and did so well, that they offered her a job – even though she still had a year of her training to go.
“I’m so proud of her – she’s amazing. She’s definitely found her calling. She’s a natural leader and she’s all about the patient. Her reputation precedes her because I’m known as ‘Christina’s mum’, not Julie.”
Christina, who has been in her current post since August 2022, said: “As mum is a ward manager as well, we bounce off each other. If something has worked well for one of us at work, we tell each other, so the other can try it out too.”
She admits her love of caring for people came from a young age.
“I always wanted to become a doctor but when I was doing my A levels, my grandad (Julie’s dad, David Hope) was taken ill with cancer and I saw at first hand that the nurses got to spend more time with the patients, so I decided that’s what I wanted to do instead,” recalled Christina.
“During my two years in sixth form, I volunteered at a local elderly care group and we used to take the residents out for the day and do activities with them.”
Her will to care for people was reinforced in sad circumstances during her training – she qualified in 2017 – when her dad Bryan, Julie’s husband, died at the age of 57 after contracting liver problems connected to his diabetes.
Julie added, poignantly: “I wish her dad had been alive to see her now – he’d have been so proud of her.”
Dedicating her life to nursing, Christina now manages 35 staff – but she is always striving to improve things for her colleagues and patients.
“We’ve worked hard on retaining staff and improving morale by introducing health and wellbeing packs and having interviews with new staff after 30 days, 60 days and 90 days to see how they’re finding the job and fitting into the team,” she said.
“We’re in the process of doing handprints to make a Christmas tree on the ward. We’re also offering staff more training opportunities.
“We also want to celebrate members of the team; for example we all celebrated Allied Health Professionals’ Day together and Nursing Support Workers’ Day.
So what of the future? “I want to develop Fairoak further and become a matron at some point,” added Christina.
Julie added: “I want to continue giving patients the best possible care because that’s what they deserve.”