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National Storytelling Week: "Every day my colleagues do extraordinary things."

On National Storytelling Week, Staff Nurse Amie Blumson shares three memorable stories from her time providing care to those in the last few weeks and days of their lives... 
Hospice at Home team (cropped)One of the things I love most about my job as a Staff Nurse for the Hospice at Home team is having the time to do little things that make a big difference. I often feel that I become a part of the family of those I am caring for, thanks to having that extra time to devote to them. Picking stories has been difficult, but these three all illustrate how doing something that seems small can make a massive impact...   

One story that springs to mind is a patient who was desperate to have a shower. It'd been a few weeks since his last one and his family were really nervous about showering him as he was wobbly on his feet and had medical equipment that made it more difficult. All he wanted was to feel the water running on top of his head because it was itchy. So, while I was on my support visit, giving the family some time out - his wife needed a rest! - I gave him a shower. He was grinning from ear to ear throughout. A shower is something we all take for granted, but in this instance it had given his family relief, and it had made his day. And me? I was totally soaked but it felt so good that something so simple had made a difference.   

This story sticks in my head as it was such an important learning moment for me. This particular individual was living in a one bed flat, with around 30 family members and friends coming and going all day - so you can imagine how busy it was! I knew the family were Muslim and the visitors were positioned around the patient's bed, chanting from the Qur'an. Keen to find out more, I asked one of the family members about the chant and what it meant. They went one step further, actually teaching me the chant - which I learnt was their way of expressing their readiness for the patient to be taken and encouraging them to accept Allah  - and I was invited to take part with the chanting, which I did! I came back to work and taught everyone the chant, so we are prepared for a similar case in the future.. I can still perform it at the drop of a hat, now!   

Hospice at Home team (cropped) Hospice at Home team (cropped)
Amie at work and with her colleagues in the Hospice at Home team.

Finally, this final story fills me with pride both because of what we achieved but the fact it was a team effort. The patient was very poorly - bedridden - but wanted to marry his partner. Thanks to three of us working together and making lots of phone calls, we were able to organise for his local church to come and hold a blessing in his home. It was a very special occasion and one we hope his family will cherish. The patient died within 48 hours.     
Every day my colleagues do extraordinary things to help local people. I'm sure every nurse and health care assistant will have similar stories. They're may be simple gestures but they make a real difference and each one will stay with me long into the future.