Emma, clinical assistant
I'm a clinical assistant in the START clinic - part of day services at Willow Wood Hospice.
I started working on the In-patient unit about six years ago, after spending seven years in the mental health sector. I’d never even done a bed bath before so it was a massive learning curve and it still is!
I have spent time working in both Inpatients and our physiotherapy department. We’re very lucky here in that we are one of the few adult hospices in the UK with a hydrotherapy pool, and that can make such a difference to our patients. It’s used for so many different things, exercise is an obvious one, but hydrotherapy can help with pain relief, mobility, relaxation and even body image issues.
Seeing the smile on people’s faces when you finally get them in the pool – it’s priceless.
We started holding family days in the pool fairly recently. There’s water pistols, fairy lights, food and music. It gives our patients and their families that often include small children a chance to have fun and make happy memories in a safe environment which might not otherwise be possible. I have learnt my lesson and invested in waterproof mascara after one water pistol related incident!
Willow Wood is committed to staff development, and a couple of years ago I undertook a structured training programme, which enabled me to develop my role in the START Clinic. I now have my own caseload and accompany my own patients throughout their journey.
Sometimes I watch my patients recover, and go on to live their lives to the fullest. It’s wonderful when they pop in to say hello and keep me up-to-date with their news. However, inevitably some patients do become more poorly. In these situations, I’m able to accompany them to our inpatient ward, where they can find it reassuring to have a familiar face stay with them throughout the remainder of their journey and introduce them and their loved ones to the rest of the team.
One of the many things that I love about the hospice and that I think is so important is that we have time to spend with people. Part of our job sometimes is just sitting with patients in their room or having a chat and a cuppa when someone is having a bad day and they need to talk. To be there for them, to be able to talk to them and calm them when they are distressed, it’s a privilege. No one should be alone at that time.
We have two specialist dementia nurses at the hospice and I’m lucky enough to work alongside them twice a month for our dementia carers cafe. The cafe has quickly become a real support network and provides much needed relaxation and fun. Having cared for my mum who has dementia, the café and the people that attend are very special to me; our wonderful team give carers much needed time and support in what is often a very distressing time.
It costs over £2.5million this year to fund our care, and I’m proud to have been involved in several sponsored events.I’ve walked in the early hours at the Midnight Wander, and I’ve even abseiled 140 foot down the IKEA building – which was terrifying, but I’m so glad I did it. I’m looking for my next challenge – any suggestions?
I’m very proud to work for Willow Wood, and to be able to care for my community. I’ve met some people that I will never forget, and I feel so lucky to have done so. Often, I’m asked how I can do this job, and yes, it can be very hard, but I’m so privileged to be allowed into people’s lives and care for them at such a devastating time– it’s a very human and natural thing to do.
We only get one chance to get our job right, and it’s too important to get wrong.