Gary has worked as a Community Nurse Specialist at St Peter & St James Hospice for eight years. Here he explains why hospice support at home is so important and what caring for people in this way means to him.
‘I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. I worked with HIV and AIDS patients in the early stages of my career and through this became passionate about supporting people towards the end of their life. I was thrilled to join the hospice’s community team in 2010.
‘Our hospice services are focussed on helping people achieve the best possible quality of life, and in the community team we do this by offering advice and support in the comfort of patients’ own homes. While on my visits, I might review someone’s medication or work to ease difficult symptoms, offer guidance around the next stages of illness or help somebody put plans in place for the end of their life. Sometimes it’s simply about having a chat to patients and relatives and listening to their worries or helping them to understand what’s happening.
‘To be welcomed into people’s homes is a total privilege. You get to see the real person and paint a vivid picture of their life ; I love forming those deeper connections with those I’m supporting. I feel people are often more relaxed at home too, which lends itself to more open conversations.
‘People can be quick to assume that being a nurse in this setting is difficult and depressing. naturally there are very sad moments, but it’s uplifting too; I get so much out of what I do. I’ve got to know so many wonderful people from all walks of life.
‘As an example, I recently supported a lady named Debbie, and her family, over a number of months. Debbie was an amazing, strong woman and they were all very close-knit and supportive of one another. I was always touched by the amount of love in that house and inspired by Debbie’s vigour and zest for life. She had a wicked sense of humour; even on difficult days we shared some very light, funny moments. To have been able to improve her quality of life and to put her somewhat at ease was incredibly rewarding. Every day my job rewards me.
‘I’m so proud to be part of the hospice team and to be able to make a difference. It’s a very special place to work.’