a NURSE responsible for helping set up a pioneering health initiative in South Tyneside is calling it a day after decades of service.
Irma Shepheard, a nurse for almost 40 years, has been supervisor of the family nurse partnership – started in Sunderland and later expanded to South Tyneside and Gateshead – since its inception in 2009.
I feel privileged to have been part of the partnership, which offers babies and their young parents a better chance in life.Irma Shepheard
The partnership is a voluntary home-visiting programme for first-time mums and dads aged 19 or under.
It sees specially-trained family nurses visiting young mums regularly, from early in pregnancy until their children reach the age of two.
Mrs Shepheard said: “I feel privileged to have been part of the partnership, which offers babies and their young parents a better chance in life.
“The nurses in the team, who have a wide range of experience – from midwifery, health visiting, and school nursing to sexual health – are brilliant, so committed and caring, and the admin support staff are wonderful too. I will miss working with them all.”
Mrs Shepheard, of Durham, started her career at Sunderland General Hospital as a cadet nurse and was then a midwife, a health visitor and an early-years mental health specialist before joining the partnership team for first-time parents.
Though she has retired from her role, she is continuing to work as a part-time primary mental health specialist for Sunderland’s community child and adolescent mental health service.