The Adventures of Home Visits in Research

By Fliss Skinner, Paediatric Research Nurse at

18th May 2012

Who would have thought that home dosing would afford so many exciting adventures!

As a nurse previously used to simply arriving on a ward to start a shift, or appearing at the office at the appropriate time, home dosing has presented several new challenges and opportunities.

A typical week for me can involve train journeys through the country side, and car journeys over the hills, either way culminating at the home of a young man with Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy- our home dosing patient.

On one particular Wednesday, we set off for a first home visit in West Yorkshire early in the morning. Things looked like they may go wrong as the train was pulling out of Stockport. I received a call from Jan, just as I glimpsed her standing on the platform…..’which train are you on Fliss………?’ Luckily, connections between Stockport and Manchester being what they are, Jan arrived in Manchester just after I did, and we ran (complete with pull along equipment cases) reaching the platform of our connecting train just as it was arriving at the station. We jumped on, and, although a little breathless, all was well. We had to change trains a couple of times, and our journey included a little local train taking us through beautiful countryside into West Yorkshire – a view a million times better than that experienced from the windows of the ward at my local district general (a brick wall or a car park)!

Our home visit was a great success, with our young patient playing on his playstation undeterred by bloods and injections. The distraction provided by games consoles, phone apps and actually just being at ease in their own home is second to none. We are able to take the time with the child to explain what we are doing, and how and when we are going to do it. We are able to give our undivided attention – uninterrupted by other demands definitely made of nurses on a busy ward. The young man was actually surprised when we said we had finished (and disappointed as this meant nearly school time!) Long may this last! Mum was delighted at how smoothly it went, telling us he normally shouts and cries during the injection. The time and effort saved by not having to travel to the study site is of huge benefit for the whole family, meaning the younger sibling can attend playgroup more regularly, and our young patient will miss less school. The trip home commenced with the return visit to the station which is a beautiful traditional country station with just 2 platforms, both involving a steep climb! Once we had decided on the correct platform (yes, we did have some indecision about which platform we needed), we were able to rest and reflect on our visit. It is very satisfying to have a successful home visit, and feel you have had the opportunity to deliver a valued service.

Our journey home provided the chance to catch up with a few emails, check Twitter and LinkedIn, and plan the logistics of the next home visit. It did however end with an unexpected event! After arriving back at Manchester Piccadilly, we were part way up the crowded escalator when an elderly gentlemen in front of us, who was trying to hold on to the central hand rail, rather than the moving escalator rail, fell rather dramatically backwards straight onto Jan and I. We are of course very good cushions, and we in turn were prevented from falling far by the crowds behind us, so the domino effect was cut fairly short. We managed to pull/push him up with the aid of several others around us. We retrieved our bags, and managed to all be standing facing the right way by the top, the elderly gentleman thanking us profusely, and cursing himself for his stupidity.

Never a dull moment! Can’t wait to see what the next home visit will bring!

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