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Charlotte's Story

I’m a band 6 staff nurse at Wakefield Hospice, and I’ve been here for just over a year. I’d already worked here on my student placement while I was training as a nurse at university and I loved it. Things here are different from a hospital. We put a lot of emphasis on the family. Each person we’re caring for knows that we’re paying attention to what’s going on their lives, and not just treating their symptoms.  

People come to us having lost a lot. We help them come to terms with the fact that they won’t get certain things back, but we can help them achieve other things. We try and tailor things to the individual as much as we can. 

Each day is different but when my shift starts I always check the list of people who are currently being cared for on the ward, and talk to colleagues to prepare the handover from the previous shift. We provide round-the-clock nursing, with teams on day and night shifts.  
I go around the ward and check whether people need anything before we start giving them their medication. People may be on a lot of medication for a range of symptoms, and they may have difficulty taking it. They may not be able to swallow or are feeling sick, in pain or very fatigued. We sit down and talk through the options with them so it’s their choice. 

When people are very ill, some things can take everything out of them. We help each person make a plan for their day. What we do follows whatever they want to do – it’s up to them. They may want to get out into the garden to get some fresh air. Or if they haven’t been able to have a shower for several days, they may really want to achieve that today. 

We can also help people have a bath. That’s when a lot of people will open up and take the opportunity to talk about things. Everyone’s different – some people put on a brave face for family but feel able to tell a nurse how they feel. Being listened to can relieve so much anxiety – sometimes we don’t need to say anything.  

The people we’re caring for can have food whenever they want. If they’re very ill, they may not have eaten for several days. We offer them as much choice as possible. 

Working at the Hospice is really rewarding. I’ve worked in an outpatient department, on day surgery, on a ward, and in the community. Here, we can really focus on what the person wants as there are so many facilities under one roof. 

The doctors here are very accessible – if someone says, ‘I really want to talk to a doctor,’ I can just go round the corner and ask ours to have a word.
And the hospice’s complementary therapist goes round the ward to see if anyone wants a treatment. Family members can also have treatments, and she works with patients and families together to show them relaxation techniques they can use at home. 

People’s roles change when someone is seriously ill. Someone may have been their loved one’s carer at home, but when their loved one comes to the hospice they can be their husband or wife again.  

At lot of people who are at the end of their lives are concerned that their families will be ok. When they come to the Hospice, they know their family will be able to use our bereavement support service. We put a lot of emphasis on the family, and in turn the family gets to know the nurses. If their loved one dies, they know they can come in to see us and we’ll still be here for them.