Tell us about your job working in care/nursing? What’s your typical day/week?
It’s a bit of a cliché but no two days are ever the same. I aim to provide individualised support to children and young people and their families; encompassing their clinical, spiritual, emotional and physical needs. A day generally starts with activities of daily living, washing, dressing, teeth brushing, administration of medicines etc but from then on it is very varied and individualised. It could be a quiet story in the lounge, a sensory experience in the jacuzzi or a rather more clinical day depending on the child or young person’s needs. That could mean more medication, catheterisation, setting up a syringe driver, colostomy bag care, gastrostomy feeding, parenteral nutrition, among others.
What do you enjoy most about working at CHSW and/or in care/nursing?
It’s difficult to explain why working in a children's hospice is so wonderful. People hear the word hospice and have already formed an opinion. It really is the most joyful place to be full of laughter and fun. I love that I am able to walk alongside our families during their palliative care journey and support them when they may be at their most vulnerable. I love the aspect of delivering one to one clinical care, in a relaxed home from home environment. I also feel very supported to undertake further study in order to expand my knowledge and skills.
What motivated you to apply to your role?
I applied for my job because I wanted to work in palliative care within an organisation that had a reputation for delivering outstanding care. This is still the case and motivates me everyday to deliver the very best care for the children and young people that use our facilities.
How did you become a Team Leader? What job were you doing before?
I started at Little Bridge House as a Carer back in 2005. I was fairly inexperienced, so it was lovely to be supported to develop my palliative care skills and grow my knowledge within a multi-disciplinary team. I had always wanted to undertake a nursing degree, but life and children got in the way! It was in 2017 that Plymouth University opened a campus in Exeter and with the backing and support of the hospice I was able to take a temporary break from my carer role and undertake a Nursing degree. I continued to work at the hospice as a bank carer until obtaining a First class honours degree in Nursing. I was then able to return to the hospice as a qualified nurse in 2020. After adapting to life as a Nurse I was then successful in my application to the Team Leader position and now spend my working day providing care and management support to the families and the team.
What would you say are the skills you need to do your job? Have you learnt any new skills since being in post?
Communication is at the forefront of skills required for my job. One minute you are using non-verbal communication with a child or young person and then you can be taking part in a multi-disciplinary team meeting with senior medical staff. You really need excellent communication skills to manage a wide range of relationships with professionals, colleagues, patients, and their families
Emotional resilience and the ability to work well in an emotionally pressured environment is really important and supports families in the palliative and end of life stages of care.
Clinical skills are essential but can also be taught, such as caring for a ventilated child, managing tracheostomies, colostomies, urostomies, syringe drivers, gastrostomies and nasal gastric tubes. Controlling symptoms such as pain and breathlessness which may help to improve quality of life.
If you could do another job within CHSW for the day, what would it be?
I know the job I wouldn’t want to do – be the cook. So stressful and within a strict time frame (lunch ready for 1pm, dinner for 5.30pm), so many dietary requirements!
How does it feel to be a part of the CHSW family?
It feels like spending time with good friends. Warm, kind, and compassionate friends who are ready to listen, share ideas, laugh and cry together.
Tell us anything else you love about your role/CHSW...
One day we’ll be meeting the cast of the pantomime or a gang of alpacas, the next minute we could be holding a parent in our arms, comforting them through their grief following their childs death. No one day is ever the same and that is what I love about my role.