9-15 October is Hospice Care Week; a chance to celebrate hospice care nationwide, and the incredible work that is being done to make sure everyone can benefit from the very best end of life care.
At Saint Francis Hospice, this year’s theme is We are Hospice Care – putting the spotlight on the staff and volunteers who ensure people receive the best palliative and end-of-life care they deserve.
Vanessa Washington is a staff nurse at Saint Francis Hospice and she covers the night shifts on the ward. Here she gives an insight into her role and why she still enjoys being part of the hospice team after 22 years of caring for patients and families.
I started working at Saint Francis Hospice when my little boy was only 15 months old. He is now 23!
I previously worked on a critical care ward at Oldchurch Hospital and whilst I gained many skills and the assertiveness to act quickly in emergency situations, I disliked working with a high turnover of agency nurses and being unable to give the high standards of care I strived for.
Over the years, the care and support we give to patients has improved as our services have developed. Our patients are wonderfully cared for and supported by our community team so they can stay at home for much longer now until they require our care at the hospice.
Communication is a key skill for all of us. Often our patients have complex care needs but as a team we work together so we can give them the care and support they need.
As a night nurse, my role involves administering medications, ensuring our patients, and relatives, are comfortable, providing emotional support, supporting my colleagues as part of the team and continuously learning to enhance my knowledge.
It is such a rewarding role being able to provide holistic care to our patients and relatives and 99% of the time I think we achieve the standards of care our patients deserve.
Occasionally our patients prefer to be at home in their own environment, whether it’s through fear of the hospice setting, emotional turmoil or simply because they do not feel ready for a stay on the ward. We can assist them in making the choice that is right for them and we have a superb multidisciplinary team who can support us and the patient.
I have been a member of the Hospice choir for over 10 years, and we continue to raise funds singing at various events. Our Christmas concert at St Andrews church is always popular and the audience is very generous with their attendance and donations. This enables the hospice to continue supporting service users and for the choir to highlight the importance of Saint Francis Hospice and the work we do.
Although challenging at times, being part of a choir is uplifting and I was privileged to be part of the London Hospices choir recording of The Living Years in 2016 which raised money for the hospices involved. Amazing!