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Billinda, Asst Practitioner

I joined Willow Wood in February 2020 as an Assistant Practitioner in the START Clinic, a new role at the Hospice. Although I hadn’t actually been looking for a new job, I saw the advert after a friend was cared for here and I’d been so impressed with the standard of care that it just seemed right to apply. As a visitor, every member of staff and every volunteer I met treated me with such total respect, thoughtfulness and care; I felt pulled towards the role.

My new job included carrying out patient assessments, co-ordinating group activities and assessing the need for home equipment. Within five weeks of my start date and while I was still undergoing in-house training, lockdown happened and everything changed.

Because of the vulnerability of our day patients the START Clinic was immediately suspended. Although our patients have been supported with phone calls and online groups, we were unable to host the various groups, treatments and therapies that normally take place and so I began to work on the Inpatient Ward.

My previous experience meant that I was able to work as a support worker, but could take on additional responsibilities such as admissions, changing dressings and administering IV lines. It’s been a learning curve for me, but I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the role so much. Working with patients at the end of their life is such an honour, I’m proud to be part of that journey.

Although I’m loving what I’m doing, I have to admit that working under all the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 does make everything more difficult. Because of the PPE it’s easy to become dehydrated; work is pretty much non-stop and we just forget to drink. Having to gown up for every patient takes time and masks are a real challenge if the patient or their families lip read. For me, one of the most difficult aspects is not being able to hug a family member if they become distressed. It really brings it home just how much that caring touch means.

Having said that, challenges are there to be overcome. Like all of us, I’m getting used to working in a different way, but Willow Wood is still providing the highest standards of care to our community and it’s so rewarding to be part of the team.

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