Reflecting on my time at Saint Francis Hospice
My nursing career started at the age of 21 when the Bee Gees were high in the charts.
Everyone was talking about Saturday Night Fever and Grease, and the first test-tube baby was born.
The first-ever cellular mobile phone system was introduced and the Space Invaders computer video games were a craze.
Over the years nursing has changed, but the heart of nursing has always remained sincere. Nurses want the best for the patients and families they care for.
My connection with the charity goes back to 1984 when the Hospice first opened and I worked on the ward as an Enrolled nurse. I left around 1994 to focus on family life but I returned to the Hospice in 2005 after retraining with a diploma in nursing as a 1st level Registered General Nurse and a degree in palliative care, along with even more experience from working with the District Nursing service and caring for the elderly.
And for the past 16 years, I have had the privilege of working with the community team as a Clinical Nurse Specialist.
I have been working throughout the pandemic and it has been an incredibly challenging time for all nurses in whatever area of nursing they practice.
My own practice in palliative care has changed during the pandemic.
More support and advice has taken place over the phone on the Hospice’s 24-hour specialist advice line.
The stories from patients and families have at times been so very sad and often heart-rending as people speak openly to our team of Clinical Nurse Specialists about the situations they find themselves in.
Feedback regarding our team has been positive and I have had personal feedback from a patient’s family saying I was the go-to person to phone when she needed advice or support.
Kindness and being there continue to be delivered to our patients and their families on a 24-hour basis by the community team here at the Hospice with support given for symptom control such as pain and breathlessness but also support for their social, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing.
It is as important as ever to discuss a patient’s wishes and where they would like to be cared for early in a patient’s palliative care journey. This can be reassuring for their families and support the grieving process. All the nurses in the community team are experienced and open up these discussions in a sensitive manner.
In palliative care, you have that one chance to get things right, and showing kindness at such a difficult time gives patients and families the confidence they can phone our Specialist Advice line when in need. Communication is key to delivering excellent palliative care.
I can only say that from the conversations I have had with families that they have made many sacrifices to keep the people who are ill in their lives safe.
This last year has been a very difficult time for all, but even more so for those who have a non-curative disease. I have been amazed by the humanity shown by health care professionals, carers, and families in such an extreme time in history.
I am aware that sadly there are many more bereaved families this year due to Covid, and that many families have not been able to say goodbye.
The Hospice has a team that provides bereavement to support those who need it the most.
Everything at the hospice is a team effort and I work closely with all the Hospice teams who provide brilliant medical support and we have wonderful admin support too.
Saint Francis Hospice has been very supportive to me during my years of service and supported me through the Non-Medical Prescribing course which has made a huge difference to the quality of care I can now give to patients. I have increased knowledge regarding medications and can write prescriptions and authorisations when required.
Nursing is a continuous learning process. All nurses continue to train and update to ensure they are able to deliver high-quality nursing to all those who need it.
It is about being compassionate, caring, and supportive but always listening and being sensitive to the needs of others who require our service, the community team demonstrates this every day.
When a family member thanks you for the support you have given and the difference you have made, that means a lot and it reminds me what a privilege it is to be a nurse and why I am so proud to be a nurse.