The Hospiscare@Home service brings the expertise of the hospice into the home and has been successfully operating in Seaton for the last three years. Having made such a positive impact to the Seaton community the service is now expanding to cover the whole Axe Valley. This event is for registered nurses, health care assistants and clinical administrators who are interested in a career in palliative care.
Hospiscare@Home Staff Nurse, Liz Livingstone, 56, explains what it’s like to be part of the service.
“It’s marvellous working as part of the Hospiscare@Home team, a real joy and a pleasure to come to work. At the moment we are a small team of seven led by Mary Ashby, who is a fabulous team leader.
“I have worked as a nurse for around 38 years, specialising in palliative care for the last 25 years. I feel it’s so important to support people to have a good death and give them the choice to die at home, if that’s their wish.
Hospiscare@Home nurse Liz Livingstone
“A typical day for me doesn’t exist. It’s always very varied. I may come into our base in the morning, or might go direct to a patient. We always do a handover with the team, a calendar check, review messages and visits planned for the day. You have to take a flexible approach as it is a constantly changing environment.
“I see around five or six patients a day, sometimes less. But when a patient is dying I may pop in to see them and their family three or four times a day. We work to fit in with what the patients and families want.
“Some of the younger patients have partners who want to be very active in caring for them. Other families may be less hands on and want more involvement from us. So we do whatever suits the family and patient best, treating each case individually.
“What I love about this job is the connection you make caring for people at home. For some reason I think when patients are in hospital they feel they have to be on their best behaviour. The clinical environment doesn’t allow them to be themselves. Their family can’t be with them all the time and they don’t have the freedom to express themselves in the same way they can at home.
“So you really get to know people in the home setting. It gives you a deeper understanding of the real person, and that allows you to give complete holistic focused care. Wanting to give all-encompassing support is the reason many of us become nurses in the first place and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. We do everything we can to help someone have a good death. I have witnessed some beautiful deaths where patients have died in the arms of their loved ones, at home in their own bed, and it’s just a huge privilege to be part of that.
“There are, of course, difficult times doing this job. Being on call at night and waking from a deep slumber can be tricky. But you know whoever has called really needs your help and the rewards far outweigh any negatives. You still get to have a life. You go home and see your family, you just need to be ready to go out if you are on call. The job can be heart-rending but the team share and support each other and I have my own outlets to deal with the emotion - I will dig the garden or speak to my sheep!
“This is a great job to have, really wonderful. We have set a gold standard service in Seaton and I am really excited to be able to spread the service further afield to the Axe Valley. It shouldn’t be a postcode lottery regards if you can get this kind of support.”