Our huge congratulations to Julie Potts (Diana Palliative Care Lead Nurse in Leicestershire) who has won a prestigious Queen’s Nurse Award. Here, Julie talks about her role and why she is so passionate about children’s palliative care nursing.
I started in the Diana Community Children’s Service in 1998 after completing my degree in Community Children’s Nursing. I was part of a team of 6 Community Children’s Nurses who set up the first ever Community Children’s Nursing service within Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. We worked together to develop and promote all aspects of the service to enable us to offer a high standard of care to children, young people and their families requiring acute nursing, ongoing nursing care, continuing care, palliative, and end of life care in the community. Throughout the years I feel I have put my heart and soul into the service and have been keen to support developments to improve service provision.
We set about developing information for families and professionals to improve our knowledge and enhance the care we provided. The information developed was shared both locally and nationally and has been utilized and adapted by others over the years. Developing the information was a starting point for future innovations and I have collated all the information into a Standard Operating Procedure which is now utilized by the Diana Service. I have also developed pathways for referring and receiving referrals for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions into a community setting, incorporating information from national charities, the local hospice, and Child Death Review Team. Securing the post of Palliative Care Lead for the Diana Service has enabled me to have time to focus on improving care options for children and young people and to support the team to build their knowledge and confidence in this sensitive and challenging area of nursing, as we only have one chance to get it right.
Being involved in end-of-life care is emotionally demanding and requires confidence to guide professionals in offering families the right care at the right time. I believe it is so important to act as an advocate for the family and to guide professionals to consider parallel and anticipatory planning of care to ensure opportunities are not missed for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. As part of my role, I have given support and guidance to professionals within the local hospital and community teams to develop their plans for children and young people. There has been a significant shift in views of the benefit of having these plans in place since the implementation of the CYPACP with ReSPECT embedded. I strongly believe all families should have an informed choice of place of care. By working closely together with other professionals I have developed care pathway to ensure families are able to receive choices in their place of care. This includes close working with our local hospice and often share care with them to ensure families have the support required. This encourages joint working and enables families to access care within the home and hospice setting as an alternative to staying in hospital. I, along with my colleagues feel very privileged to have cared for and supported many families to be at home at end of life.
I have always felt proud to be a nurse and have the skills and caring ability to provide care to children and young people and their families to a high standard. I feel strongly that it is important to care for the family as a whole and involve them in decision making and care planning and that they are given choices of the care options available to them. Having the opportunity to care for families at such a difficult time in their lives is such an honour. Being able to give guidance and support to them (and professionals also involved) in their time of need and being able to make a difference to them is so important to me.