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Why working in end of life care is so rewarding

Donna Walker, Assistant Practitioner in Practice Development, LOROS Hospice

I’ve been working at LOROS for fifteen years, first as a healthcare assistant on the ward and for the past four years as an assistant practitioner and healthcare assistant.

LOROS provides free, high-quality, compassionate care and support to terminally ill patients, their family and carers, both at the Hospice and in patients’ own homes across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

I’m part of a team of four, soon to be five, working in the education team delivering training to internal and external staff. I also work in a clinical role directly with patients on the ward and when assessing staff and apprentices during their training.

I was first inspired to become a healthcare assistant after being in hospital having my daughter. I applied for a healthcare assistant job at Leicester General Hospital a year later and was successful. I worked there for around 10 years.

I moved to LOROS after a colleague of mine started working there. Her Dad had died at LOROS and had received such great care in a lovely environment that she decided she wanted to work there.

I followed later as it sounded such a fabulous place to work. I had always had an interest in end of life care and wanted to be part of a team delivering excellent care to patients in their final weeks.

Most people think hospices are sad places to work. Of course we are caring for people at the end of their lives but the hospice environment at LOROS is very positive and has a really feel good atmosphere. Often patients and their families are surprised when they first arrive.

Understandably they can be anxious, but once they see what the place is like their anxieties tend to melt away. LOROS is an extremely peaceful and calming environment. It’s surrounded by greenery, it’s light and airy and the staff are amazing. Everyone that works here is kind, caring and compassionate. People are made to feel really welcome.

On the wards I look after patients in a supportive role with the registered nurses, delivering personal care. I will observe and check vital signs, as well as help the nurses when they administer medicines or put in catheters.

I’m also responsible for training staff to ensure they have the right competencies and knowledge. The areas I cover include communication skills to support people in distress, moving and handling patients and I’m the ‘dignity’ lead trainer at LOROS.

I really enjoy my job. The clinical side is what brought me into the profession and is what I love, but I also enjoy training people as this has a direct impact on how well other healthcare professionals deliver care.

Working at the hospice can be challenging as people are at the end of their life but it’s an incredibly rewarding job too.

The skills needed include being caring and compassionate, as well as a people person. You need to be dedicated and hardworking, plus have advanced communication skills to be able to speak with patients and their families at a difficult and stressful time in their lives.

It’s essential to be interested in people. I’m dealing with lots of different people daily, from patients and their families, to nurses and consultants, as well as other staff as a trainer and our team of volunteers.  You need the human touch and to be able to lead by example.

During my time at LOROS I’ve been supported to do all sorts of training from an NCVQ Level 3 in Care to my Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care / Palliative Care. I have also completed many trainer courses including a two day course to become a SAGE & THYME facilitator. This enables me to teach core communication skills for dealing with people in distress.

I’m currently studying to be an internal quality assessor too. I don’t believe I would have the opportunities to do so much learning and training if I worked elsewhere. I want to continue learning and developing, honing by skills as both a trainer and as a healthcare care assistant.

I’d highly recommend working in a hospice environment for anyone interested in healthcare and nursing. You can make a real difference to someone at the end of their lives, which is what people deserve.

LOROS Hospice is one of five health and social care employers behind the recently launched recruitment campaign Y/Our Future that is urging doctors, nurses and health and social care workers to work in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. To find out about current vacancies at LOROS Hospice visit www.loros.co.uk

 

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