Everyone likes a good neb. I’m always having a peer and a peek at what’s going on outside on the road. I’m lucky enough to know and speak to the neighbours who live side-to-side with me, opposite and (randomly) me behind over the garden hedge due to a strange alignment of children being at the same school, a willingness to take in parcels and a fairly low hedge. People in Sheffield look out for each other and when an unrecognised car pulls up outside the home of a neighbour there will be a bit of “nebbin’”, curtains twitch and everyone will wonder who’s come to call.
In January 2017, Gilder loaned St Luke’s Community Service a Honda CRV. The new magenta St Luke’s logo was subtle on the driver and passenger’s doors and also on the boot. During the last two winters, since I have worked for the Community Team, we have been grounded by the snow and lost two visiting days due to poor conditions. Gilder Honda have agreed to help maintain a Palliative Care presence in the city come rain or shine.
The people of Sheffield who know the name “St Luke’s” probably know about the Hospice building – a place of calm and care where, yes, people can choose to be looked after until their death but also a place where symptoms can be managed and where anxieties eased. However, it’s the St Luke’s Community Service, the nurses who come to the homes of the people living with terminal disease who see the majority of patients known to St Luke’s. In other words, your loved one may never walk into St Luke’s Hospice itself but may be supported by the nurses at home – no matter where in Sheffield they live.
So far, I’ve driven across farm yards in Bolsterstone, taken on Jenkin Road, nipped over Hagg Hill and then ventured out to Mosborough. The Gilder Honda CRV takes it all in its stride. However, I’m aware as I drive that people see the St Luke’s badge. I arrived at a patient’s home and a neighbour enthusiastically approached me asking if he’d “won the Hospice lottery” and if I was “delivering a big cheque”. I politely informed him this was unfortunately not the case and I was visiting a neighbour.
This is where discussion has developed with in my team. To pull up outside the home of a neighbour with the “logo” on board – doesn’t that breach patient confidentiality? Well, we wear uniform, and District Nurses visiting sick patients also wear uniform. There is no “secret” in arriving at someone’s door looking prepared to care. So far, I have had only one family member express annoyance at the presence of a branded vehicle.
A phrase I use often when I sit on a patient’s sofa is that “no-one would want a St Luke’s Nurse sitting on their sofa.” No one expects to be living with a terminal disease, suddenly contemplating the years they will not have to live. Whether the person is 25 or 85 they have the same fears and symptoms. They have the same pain. As part of the Rapid Response Service, I visit patients with unstable symptoms or who have rapidly deteriorated. When the car arrives, most relatives are relieved that someone is there to help.
So, as I drive up-and-down the Ridgway or out to Bradway, through Derek Dooley Way to Penistone Road, crawling up Fulwood Road past Weston Park Hospital and out into Wharncliffe Side, trying to miss the school traffic around Gleadless, Oughtibridge and Grenoside, Nether Green or Shire Green, Darnall, Tinsley, Millhouses or Woodhouse Mill, Skye Edge or Nether Edge, past Hillsborough or Bramall Lane I know it’s important to show that St Luke’s are more than just a building. We are out there. The Community Service - the only specialist palliative care support service in Sheffield who will come to the homes of people living with life limiting illnesses.
So, if you like a bit of “nebbin’” then make sure the next time you see the car go past or, if it’s parked up close to your house, realise it’s probably because someone close by is poorly. Don’t be afraid of that. Someone probably needs more than to have curtains “twitched” in their direction. Knock on a door or stop them in the street and see if they need anything – palliative care isn’t just for us nurses, it’s for all of us in Sheffield.
David Jones, Charge Nurse in St Luke’s Community Service.