Gill, Staff Nurse START
I saw an advert asking for Bank staff at the Hospice which had recently opened. I was on maternity leave at the time and decided to apply . At this time, the Hospice was opening in stages and Day Services was beginning to slowly develop - opening firstly 1 day then 2 days a week until eventually, we opened 5 days Monday to Friday. At the outset, patients attended Day Services for the day, had lunch, joined in arts and crafts and saw the Physio and Complementary therapist if needed. After the interview, I was offered a part time permanent job as Staff Nurse in the Day Hospice and decided to join the Hospice and started my career here on 1 November 1999 (my son Richard was 11 months then and he is now 20).
Over the years I have seen many changes and met lots of interesting patients, families, volunteers and colleagues. The Day Hospice has now changed to the ‘START Clinic’ and we offer a more patient centred approach offering support, treatment assessment, rehabilitation and therapy. I no longer wear a uniform, which took me a while to get used to! I continue to work as a Staff Nurse in the START clinic, enjoying the changing, challenging but caring and compassionate role I undertake within Day Services.
A colleague and I were talking together about singing and decided to form a Hospice choir. We were surprised to have about 20 people so we advertised for a choir leader and were fortunate to get a very enthusiastic lady called Joyce who taught us to sing and even put on a concert for ‘Voices for Hospices’ which was completely sold out.
The choir has grown in numbers and we have done many concerts raising monies for the Hospice. We have also performed at weddings and the Light Up a Life service which was originally held outside in Fletcher Square, Ashton. It was always icy cold, snowing or raining or all three! We now have this service in the Albion Church which is a lot warmer and drier! We have also sang at special birthdays and special community events. We continue to grow and encourage new people to enjoy singing together whilst raising funds for the Hospice.
In 2009 I was introduced to the St Christophers School Project and this was something I was very keen to develop at Willow Wood. The first school to take part was West Hill Boys School. and since then we have had senior and primary school children visiting the Hospice to take part in this rewarding project. New schools continue to ask to come to learn about the work of the Hospice. To date, there have been 46 school projects since 2009. The children all get a Willow Wood ambassador badge and a certificate for taking part. The patients and the children's families and staff all find the presentation at the end of the four week programme inspirational and uplifting, which probably sums up my own Willow Wood experience which has always been a refreshing and rewarding place to work.
When I look back over the past 20 years lots of changes have taken place at the Hospice but the values of love, care and respect for patients and families, staff and volunteers remain the same in 2019 as they did in 1999.