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Milly Brennan
A Q&A with Milly, a Paediatric Nurse and Team Leader at Little Harbour
Milly tells us more us about her job and what she enjoys most about working at CHSW

Tell us about your job working in care/nursing? What’s your typical day/week?
As a Team Leader, I am responsible for co-ordinating the shift, involving anything from supporting clinically; allocating staff to the children and young people; covering breaks; training and educating; and liaising with families and their professionals. I manage a small team and I’m responsible for meeting with them regularly for supervision and completing PDRs. We come across children and young people with a huge range of clinical and sensory needs which we have the training to care for. For example, children with tracheostomies, invasive and non-invasive ventilation, communication through Makaton or eye-gaze, autism and behavioural needs.

What do you enjoy most about working at CHSW and/or in care/nursing? 
My favourite thing about working at CHSW is that each day excites me, welcoming something new to learn and brings an immense sense of satisfaction. I am driven by being able to make a difference to a family, however small. At Little Harbour, we have the ability to make the worst times of their lives as peaceful as we can, which is something I never take for granted.

What motivated you to apply to your role?
I moved down to Cornwall from Liverpool for my husband’s work and while on the job hunt for myself, was immediately drawn to Little Harbour and Children’s Hospice South West’s core values, purpose and vision. I didn’t have previous experience of working in a children’s hospice, but it took simply walking through the door and feeling the warmth and compassion from all the staff and families to convince me I had made the right choice in applying and hoped I would be successful. Following my interview, I spent a few hours immersed in the Care Team which clearly reinforced this feeling.

How did you become a Team Leader? What job were you doing before?
I previously spent five years working on a hospital orthopaedic and neurosurgical ward after qualifying as a Paediatric Nurse. There was a very quick turnaround of surgical patients and although excellent surgical service was provided, I had a constant feeling of dissatisfaction with the time I was able to give to the children, young people and their families. I am passionate about family-centred care and being able to build fulfilling, trustworthy relationships and didn’t feel able to achieve this on a busy ward. At Little Harbour, we have the time to care as much as we can. I started on the Care Team initially and quickly found my feet and passion for hospice, palliative and end of life care. I applied for the role of Team Leader within a year and I love my job. I really feel I have found my calling in my nursing career.

Milly Brennan, Paediatric Nurse and Team Leader at Little Harbour

What would you say are the skills you need to do your job? Have you learnt any new skills since being in post?
We spend a lot of time team building and reinforcing resilience while also respecting the toll working at a hospice can take. It is necessary to be passionate about caring for the entire family and we have a dedicated Sibling Team that we work alongside to ensure each member feels valued and special. I think there is a fear that working at a children’s hospice can de-skill a carer or nurse, but I have never felt more confident in my clinical abilities. Being able to spend quality time understanding a child’s whole condition and care needs with the immense support of their families and colleagues has been invaluable. We hold their emotional, sensory and psychosocial needs as highly as their clinical needs and this is something I have never had the time to do before.

If you could do another job within CHSW for the day, what would it be?
I would love to spend time with Richard, our Music Therapist at Little Harbour. I am always keen to get involved in a sing-song and see the huge benefit his work has on the children, young people and families we have in. Music has special powers!

How does it feel to be a part of the CHSW family?
We really are a family. We care for and support one another. There is such an awareness of the gravity of our job. While supporting families through some of the most difficult times of their lives like it’s second nature to us, we always allow time to debrief, diffuse any feelings and talk it out. It is the most supportive environment. We work in collaboration with CHSW’s other two hospices, Charlton Farm and Little Bridge House, sharing our knowledge and experience and have opportunities to learn other colleagues’ stories from care to fundraising and retail.

Tell us anything else you love about your role/CHSW...
CHSW is such an incredibly special organisation to be a part of, I’ve found it surprisingly hard to put it into words. It is an honour to be a part of our families’ lives, to care for their children and support them in every way we can.