Stories from the Heart – Sandie

WSBH Hospice Heart Element - PinkA testimonial about care In the Home

As well as caring for people in the hospice buildings, we also look after around 1300 people in a year in their own homes. Patients will be referred by a medical professional and can often be looked after for some years by our Community Nurses team; with an integrated approach which can include referring them to the hospices for treatments where necessary.

Sandie is the Community Nurse Services Team Leader at Woking Hospice and explains her role in more detail:

“I trained as a nurse in a London hospital and whilst I was there, noticed how impersonal a lot of clinical staff were. It was after I observed a doctor mis-communicating a diagnosis of incurable cancer to a patient that I realised how important it was for clear communication and support when they are given their diagnosis. As a result I sought a job in a hospice where I was living at the time in order to learn about palliative care and take it back to the NHS. However I found the work so inspirational that I ended up staying within the hospice environment. I believe we have the potential to make such a massive difference to patients and their families and it is a real privilege to be able to do so.

Working as a community nurse we look at each patient as a whole person, whose life has been shattered. We can help them adjust and prepare as we support them and their families to come to terms with their situation. It is the most rewarding feeling despite being incredibly sad at times.

When we visit a patient we spend around an hour with them and we give them a full assessment, looking at their symptoms as well as checking how their families are. We then work closely with GPs to ensure that the correct treatment is administered to aid with symptom control. Spending time with patients and not just focussing on their physical symptoms is something that doesn’t happen in most clinical environments and we know it is really appreciated.

You don’t come into palliative care lightly, this isn’t an ordinary day job. The team we have is just brilliant. We do laugh and joke and we support each other. We want to fix everything but of course we can’t, so instead we enable patients to live the fullest life they can whilst they are still with us; and we pull out all the stops to help them fulfil any goals they have. Our philosophy is that a patient should be living until the day they die. If someone in our care takes to their bed then we sometimes feel we have failed them. For example we have helped patients get to weddings or have one last holiday, or even relocate prior to their passing, by helping to organise treatment locally or getting the right equipment to them before they travel, as well as liaising with other hospices, GPs and District Nurses.

We work very closely with colleagues in the Day Care teams and CoSI team, to ensure that patients are being given the correct treatment, seamlessly, at every stage of their illness. We have even been able to keep a patient out of A&E, because of rapid response to a patient’s changing condition and an understanding of their situation. On occasion we have managed to divert ambulances to bring the patient to the hospice where the ward staff could continue the work we had started with them in their home.

When not out visiting patients, a huge amount of our work is done over the phone and a lot of those calls are very sensitive in nature which can be difficult with so many people in a small office. Our office in the new hospice will give us more space and better office facilities to allow us to work sensitively and effectively with reduced staff stress.

Thanks to Sandie (on the left in the photo) for her Story and to her and Virginia for their image.

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