Can you tell us something about yourself?
I grew up in Essex but came up to Sheffield 40 years ago to train as a nurse. As a child I was always fascinated by biology and the human body and knew I would have a career related to this. Initially I worked as a nurse assistant for a few months before beginning my nurse training 39 years ago. I worked as a staff nurse for 6 years at the NGH in acute surgical and medical nursing and then my husband and I decided to have an adventure with our 3 year old son and went over to Vancouver Canada for a year where I worked in bone marrow transplant nursing.
I had to take the Canadian Nurse Exam which fortunately I passed! Whilst at the NGH I was acutely aware of the impact that patients being told they had an incurable life limiting illness had on them and was struck by the difference that the one palliative care nurse at the time employed by NGH had on very worried patients and knew very early on in my career that I wanted to work in palliative care.
On return from Canada I applied to work at St Luke’s initially as a staff nurse on the ward. I had another son and both children went to the crèche at the hospice which we had then. Seven years later I helped to set up a night help line for community patients and then was integrated into the community team as a specialist palliative care nurse 20 years ago. I have now worked at the hospice for 30 years and it has been a fantastic organisation enabling career progression. I feel it is in the community that I can really make a difference and was always a keen advocate to ensure that patients at home could get access to the same level of palliative care that patients within the in- patient centre could access.
I have been able to study for my degree in specialist palliative care at the hospice and also study at Master’s level as a non-medical prescriber as well. I have also had the honour of becoming team lead for Project ECHO enabling other organisations to access education via a virtual platform sharing best practice through case based learning to ensure that patients get the best care and support possible and had a poster accepted for presentation at the RCN international research conference last year. St Luke’s has certainly been an organisation that supports career progression.
It is challenging balancing home and work life but I have a very demanding Labrador that I have to play with at the end of the day and take for long walks! I also cherish time with my family; my own mother sadly died last year so I had the experience of receiving the support of palliative care as a carer and I cannot stress what a difference this makes. I also have a son, daughter in law and grandchildren who live in Spain but sadly have been unable to see them due to Covid.
The biggest change I have seen in my 30 years working in palliative care has been the development of palliative treatments enabling people to live longer with their disease enabling them to spend more time with their loved ones. I consider myself very fortunate to have the career that I have and long may it continue!