The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Celebrating our international nurses - Sekai Garikayi

12 May 2021

We are celebrating our nurses, midwives and operating department practitioners (ODPs) in a two-week long celebration during May that takes in the international recognition days for each profession. Today we're putting the spotlight on our international nurses - celebrating the contributions of nurses from around the world who have come to Leeds. It's over to Sekai Garikayi, Staff Nurse, to tell us a bit about her role and profession.

Sekai Garikayi Pic 2Sekai: I am a staff nurse at St James’s Hospital. I came to the United Kingdom in January 1999 just before the millennium. I am originally from Zimbabwe. I came to Leeds to join my husband who was doing a PhD at the University of Leeds. I came with my family, and then we had two girls who were yet to start school.

We chose to come to Leeds because my brother-in-law had lived in Leeds previously when he was a student at Leeds Metropolitan University. He spoke highly of the University of Leeds so we did a bit of research and we found that the university was among the top universities in the world.

When we got to Leeds we found that it was similar to our capital city of Harare with a clearly centralised city centre to mark the central business district. It definitely had the feel of home. I then applied to do nursing at the University of Leeds. Previously I had worked as a teacher but I felt I could not teach in West Yorkshire as my accent seemed to be a problem for people to understand. I thus began my training at the Leeds University joining what was called Project 2000.

Learning at Leeds University was quite tough. I was no stranger to hard work having been a teacher and also done a degree in my home country combined with being a mature student.  I was a mother juggling my school work, placements and also looking after my two girls as well as being a housewife! It was challenging especially as we had no family or friends to rely on.

Once I finished my training I went to work in nursing homes. The shift patterns seemed to help me balance work and home life. I thus have a lot of experience looking after the elderly. I enjoyed making a difference to the lives of the residents I looked after and formed meaningful relationships as I interacted with both residents and relatives making best interest decisions for some of them as their capacity began to deteriorate.  

I have also worked for Leeds Community Healthcare looking after patients with continuing care needs. My role was to provide intermediate care to patients who came into our centre needing rehabilitation after falls leading to fractures or patients needing support to get back on their feet following a hospital stay. The most interesting thing I learned when I worked at this centre was how to correctly use a zimmer frame! Working at this centre really improved my moving and handling skills for life!

Zimbabwe flagI currently work in Oncology Outpatients as a staff nurse. I have worked here for the past three years. I really enjoy my job looking after patients with different cancers and working with professionals from different walks of life. We also get a lot of students and I have been able to use my previous teaching skills to ensure our students get a good experience that enables them to grow to be brilliant nurses. Working in Oncology Outpatients is very interesting as one is part of a large group of professionals working to give best care to those with a life limiting disease. 

It is my dream to grow and move into a leadership role and be able to influence the experience of students and of nurses in our workspaces. I believe this is very important as we spend a lot of time at work, as such our work environment must be a place that we look forward to working within. To this end I have done some training as a Speak up Champion and always try and advocate for others whether it is staff or patients. 

Although I love nursing in the UK, I do miss the weather at home and the feel of the African sunshine as I go about my life. Each year the British winters seem to be worse for me. It’s as though I am resisting being warm in the cold!