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Meet Maggie, a 40-year hospice veteran

Maggie shares her incredible experience of working in palliative care for 40 years

A woman wearing a blue Hospiscare nursing top

Maggie Draper, our Assistant Director for Quality and Learning and Development, retired from Hospiscare in July 2022 after spending 40 years working in palliative care.

After completing her law degree in 1982, Maggie began reading for a master’s degree in Social Work at Oxford University. Maggie was due to start her first placement in a prison but after a last minute cancellation, she was sent to a hospice in Southampton. Maggie explains, “I completely fell in love with working in palliative care and being part of a multi-professional team. Even though I began working in hospices by accident, I thrived in being part of a team with the patient and their family at the centre.”

This was a true turning point for Maggie and when she returned to the second year of her degree, she changed all of her courses to medical social work.

Maggie’s career in palliative care has taken her to five different hospices across the country, from Oxford to inner- city Trinity Hospice in London and then to York Hospice and a Manager for Palliative Care Services for North Yorkshire.

Maggie moved to Devon in 2012 and after spending four years at St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth, she began working for Hospiscare in July 2016.

Maggie continues, “When I look back at the things that stand out from my career, I can remember the contrasts very clearly. From working in an urban, hugely diverse hospice in London to the extreme rurality of covering the North Yorkshire moors in the snow and trying to get nurses out to visit the farms.

“I have observed many changes in the field of palliative care during my 40-year career, including  vast improvements in pain and symptom management, development of palliative chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments and establishment of palliative care as a medical speciality. At the beginning of my career, we only cared for cancer patients and now, we support people with many different end-of-life conditions.

“Pandemics have made a big impact on me; from looking after young patients during the Aids pandemic of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s at the beginning of my career to contributing to Hospiscare’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has defined the last few years of my career.”

During these forty years, Maggie has had the opportunity to work with leaders in the hospice field and concludes: “I would say that the secret to a long career in palliative care is flexibility – the world changes around you and you need to keep up!

“I was part of the development of the hospice movement and it has been a privilege to contribute to designing and building services where compassion is key and patients and families are at the centre of our care.”