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As we celebrate 40 amazing years of caring we want to share the faces of those who are at the forefront of delivering our care and services. The faces that those who were and will be supported by St Nic’s and their loved ones will have seen and will see. There are many others like Natasha, who work not only to deliver high-quality end-of-life care that is rooted in respect and dignity, but go the extra mile to make sure someone’s Hospice experience is as comforting as it can possibly be.
I knew I wanted to give care
I’ve been working at the Hospice for the last 15 years. I started as a Registered Nurse on the Sylvan Ward, leading me to becoming the Sylvan Ward Sister.
I came because I knew I wanted to give care that meets all the patient’s needs holistically. My role entails supporting the patients and their families in various ways. We assess patients for symptoms such as pain or distress and give medication to help manage these. We also spend time allowing patients and relatives to talk about what they are going through. We acknowledge that medication only goes so far in helping a patient control their symptoms. We consider the concept of total pain, acknowledging that pain can be caused by an individual’s psychological suffering as well as physical. With the loss of an individual’s role, for example, as a mother, or fears surrounding their uncertain future, reflection upon the past. This acknowledgement is vital in giving individualised care.
Their favourite whisky on a sponge
It’s a huge privilege to be allowed to be a part of someone’s end-of-life care. We try to consider every patient as an individual, taking time to offer anything that can bring comfort. Some of my most treasured memories have been playing rock music to a dying patient, giving a patient their favourite whisky on a sponge for taste, supporting a child to cuddle their parent in the bed at the end of life for the last time and holding the hand of patients who may not have families nearby.
For a patient in the Hospice, we cannot pretend it is home, but what we can do is make it a safe place where they can take the time to be with their family and remain family members, rather than becoming the spouse who also has to be the nurse/carer making decisions about what medication to give when.
Selfishly, it’s these experiences that give me a huge appreciation for the gift of being able to live and spend time with my family. Whilst experiencing death in such large numbers is emotional, it’s a job that brings me more pride than I’ve ever experienced, and that’s why I’ve stayed so long and can’t imagine working anywhere else.
Whilst experiencing death in such large numbers is emotional, it’s a job that brings me more pride than I’ve ever experienced
My own Gran
The death of my own Gran at the Hospice has profoundly affected me as a nurse. Until then, I had to acknowledge that I had limited understanding of what patients and families experience. But when my Gran and our family moved in, spending 24 hours a day with her there, I was suddenly able to appreciate how every interaction with us mattered.
The kindness shown by everyone in the building was immeasurable. We felt safe at the Hospice because we knew that when my Gran experienced symptoms of distress, these would be treated.
We knew that time was taken to truly understand how she was feeling, and changes to medications were done with thought. Nothing was ever rushed: conversations, reviews, care, and every interaction made us feel like we mattered like it was as important to the staff as it was to us.
Precious memories we think of every day
They allowed us to do as much or as little as we wanted to participate in my gran’s care. We were given hearts for all her great-grandchildren; my children still hold these at night thinking of her. The Hospice as a physical place was calm and tranquil. The garden gave her the sounds of birds that she loved, the squirrels to watch and a place for us to take a breath to regain emotional strength to face what we knew was coming.
The space in the room allowed us all to have moments with her, creating the last precious memories we think of every day. The Bistro kept us fed and energised for the days we stayed. But aside from anything physical, the Hospice is a very special place. It’s about everything you get that isn’t written down: the kindness, the smiles, the laughter, the understanding, and the freedom to have moments of joy, anger, fear, and tears without ever feeling judged.
We could just be her family
Before my Gran’s time at the Hospice and my experience on the other side, I never fully appreciated that these things make the difference. These are what I want for anyone who finds themselves in my situation.
The Hospice allowed my Gran to die peacefully with her family around her being her family and not needing to be anything more than that. This is something I will be forever grateful for.
How Natasha makes a difference
Natasha’s story really has two halves. With her professional hat on she shares how it feels to be alongside someone at the end of their life and the efforts our teams make to ensure everyone has support, dignity and choice when facing dying, death and grief. In the second part of Natasha’s story she isn’t a nurse, she is a granddaughter and she could be a granddaughter because the Hospice was there.
Do you have a story about your connection with St Nicholas Hospice Care?
In our 40th year celebration, we want to highlight the many contributions in our Hospice’s history.
We’re aiming to proudly feature 40 faces across the year, could you be someone who has a story to share?
If you are someone who has a fond memory to share, you can do so here.