I chose a career in nursing because I wanted to make a difference. I now work as a Team Leader for a children’s hospice. Whenever I say this, people often assume it’s a really sad job. I can understand why people would think this; my feelings before I started working in children’s palliative care were that it would be very daunting and emotionally straining. I was worried about being able to provide the best possible care to these families and their children; just looking after a child that was nearing their end of life felt like it was a huge thing for me to take on.
I know now from working in this sector that palliative care is not doom and gloom; we are here to make a difference and make memories that families will cherish for ever.
Choosing children’s palliative care
I was already a nursery nurse but wanted more of a challenge and wanted to make a difference to children that were seriously ill that’s when I decided to embark on a children’s nursing career. At first I worked in the hospitals on the paediatric wards and then I joined a palliative care community team looking after children at end of life and offering them respite at home. It was after this experience I decided I really wanted to specialise in children’s palliative care. When I did palliative care in the community before I applied for a job at Children’s Hospice South West it was just being with those families and trying to help them and get them the care they needed that made me want to specialise. I wanted to be there for families when they needed somebody at the most vulnerable time in their lives.
It’s very different and very varied
Every child is an individual and they all have different needs. There’s the medical side but there’s also looking at how you might play with a child with sensory needs, taking a child with a ventilator in the Jacuzzi. You also play, you get on a bike and you ride around. Or you make messy play pictures and take them to the cinema. It’s very different and very varied. And, what’s surprised me the most about the nursing skills needed in the role is also the variety. And there is plenty of opportunities to increase your nursing skills and competencies through conferences, educational courses, in-house and external training and on the job education and support. The team work amazingly well together and we learn from each other; it’s very multi-professional. There is also opportunity for you to increase your skills in a variety of areas such as dealing with children with behaviour difficulties and how to get the most out of play for children with sensory impairment.
There is also an increasing need for different roles within palliative care and the opportunity for career progression. There is now the opportunity to work within a hospice setting, within the community and in the hospital. You also have the opportunity within all of these settings to become team leaders and senior nurses within the specialised area of palliative care.
An amazing experience
I feel very privileged to work with these families at the most difficult time. It’s not just about looking after children at their end of life, it’s about looking after them throughout their journey. The relationship you have with families is really important; you work with them to give them the support and care their child needs.
You can be that nurse
Some of these families you’ve known for a really long time and for me, to be there and be there for that child and their family makes me just want to my job even more. I’m so glad to have dedicated my career to this sector – It’s amazing, challenging and a privilege all wrapped up into one. I’d say to any nurse: try it, it’s a really rewarding career. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
It’s an amazing job, what else can I say? #YouCanBeThatNurse