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Appeal for Emergency Nurse Cover

It is perhaps when the ward is at its most busy and a patient is dying that the ability to call on our emergency bank nurses, often at a moment’s notice, is most valued. One of our bank healthcare assistants, Paula Brown, describes such a situation. 


"I’m Paula Brown, and I started work at Hospiscare as a bank nurse on the ward about 18 months ago, after more than 28 years working in a caring role - I actually started out as a Saturday girl at my local care home and eventually I worked my way up to a managerial role there!


"From day one at Hospiscare, I was struck by the incredible dedication of the people I met here. Nothing is too much trouble - the nurses really do put the needs of patients and families at the centre of what they do, to make sure people get the care that they need.

"As a healthcare assistant, it's my job to give personal care to the patients - assist them to wash, help them clean their teeth, change their bed linen and assist with a shower or bath. I support them at meal times to eat, and empty their catheter bags, if required, and keep the area round them tidy - really, anything they need. But I also spend a lot of time holding patients' hands if that helps them feel supported and talking with them and their families.

"Bank nurses are really an extension of the main Hospiscare team. Obviously, we're very flexible about when we work, but despite this we get to know the regular staff and the ward routines well, so we can really ensure continuity.

As bank staff, we're sometimes asked to do a emergency shift where we step in at very short notice to cover staff absence, or when there is a patient or family who needs one-to-one support.

"Late one night recently I was asked to do a shift on the ward. One of the patients, who had just been admitted, was very poorly and had a young family who were struggling to cope. The whole family had gathered at her bedside, and I was needed to free up a nurse's time so that she could concentrate on giving one-to-one care to the patient. My role was to prepare the family for what was about to happen, to give them comfort, and reassurance, and to look after their needs so that they could cope better when the time came for their final goodbyes.

"After some hours the patient died, very peacefully. The family told us afterwards that the extra support at the end had made an incredible difference to them and the memories they have of the final moments. Families are often amazed that we provide care like this, but I always tell them that’s what the hospice is all about! Hospiscare surrounds people with so much love and care when they need it most, and I always feel proud and privileged to play my part.

"Away from work I spend a lot of time with my Dad who's terminally ill, too. He lives about two minutes away from Searle House, so when I get a phone call I can easily pop round and do a shift on the ward - I'm always happy to do that if Dad doesn't need me.

"Soon, though, Hospiscare won't need to phone to call me in to do a shift - I'll already be there. I heard recently that a permanent job was coming up, and jumped at the chance to apply – and got it! I'm ecstatic and looking forward to being full time on the ward. I just love my job."

To make sure we can give specialist, personalised care we have 28 directly employed staff on our ward in Exeter - a mix of registered nurses and healthcare assistants.  Our work rota is carefully planned to achieve the best mix of skills and use of resources. However, sometimes we need to call on extra staff - called ‘bank nurses’. 
This brings a significant additional cost – almost 10 per cent of our overall ward staffing costs. 


We would be so grateful if you could support Hospiscare by making a donation today. No matter how small your gift, you will be helping to make sure we have the emergency nurse cover we need that we can continue to provide this exceptional level of care for our most poorly patients.