"No day is ever the same but my diary gives a glimpse into one of my shifts recently.” – Hannah, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Hospice at Home

8.30am – I grab a coffee and make sure I’m up to date on calls and emails that came in overnight. It’s important to prioritise patient situations and decide who needs to be seen first.

9.00am – Time to make follow up calls and respond to emails from patients and families. We take pride in being very responsive and getting back to people with the answers and reassurance they need asap.

9.30am – Our daily admissions meeting. I have a patient who would benefit greatly from a bed at the Hospice. I put forward their case, along with my colleagues who also have patients waiting for a bed and we agree who we can allocate one to.

9.45am – I schedule in the day’s visits and ring a couple of families to arrange appointments, before checking my notes to make sure I’m fully prepared. We make over 10,000 visits to patients a year and right now we’re supporting over 1,000 people and their families in our community.

Hospice at Home Nurse

10.20am – I arrive at my first patient’s house and introduce myself, he’s an elderly gentleman with cancer and his son and daughter are with him. I let them lead the conversation, focusing on their concerns and wishes and offering input based on what I hear. We cover all aspects of the gentleman’s situation, including his physical, psycho-social and emotional needs. Their main concern is his mobility, so we chat about equipment that could help. I make a note to follow up with the district nurse and physio.

11.30am – First meetings always take longer, but fortunately my next visit is nearby: a patient in her 40s and she and her husband are extremely anxious. I listen to their concerns and talk them through how we can help – emotional support from our social workers, peer support at our Wellbeing Centre, guided relaxation sessions for her, and our carers’ group for him.

12.30pm – Back to the Hospice and I have a sandwich while catching up with messages that have come in, before I meet up with the doctor who’s coming with me on my next visit.

2.00pm – This is my second visit this week to my patient, who lives with his disabled wife. I’ve been seeing him for a while and his condition has fluctuated a lot. We’d previously discussed moving him to our In-Patient Unit to manage his difficult symptoms, but he wanted to die at home and the family felt it would be distressing to move him. Today, it is clear he is dying and my colleague and I agree our goal should be to keep him as comfortable as possible at home.

3.30pm – Back at the Hospice I ring some of my patients to answer questions I’d promised to look into. I then do some services’ referrals I’d discussed on visits, including to our physio team at the Hospice and to the district nurse for my new patient. I’m also concerned about a patient whose symptoms have worsened, so I contact the district nurse to ask her to visit. I refer her to our night response team in case she needs a call or a visit overnight, too.

5.00pm – I receive a call from the wife of my patient I visited with our doctor this afternoon, telling me he died at home with his symptoms under control, surrounded by his family: ‘You gave him the best death possible. We were worried that wouldn’t happen, but it was so peaceful and he was where he wanted to be.’ This means so much to me.

5.30pm – I catch up with my team. We’re good at debriefing and supporting each other. It makes such a differenceGroup photo of community nurses being able to talk to colleagues who understand and have such a broad range of knowledge, experience and expertise. As I drive home, I reflect on how rewarding my role is and how much of a difference I get to make in both life and death to the people I am privileged to support. My team and I are dedicated to brightening dark days.

Please help us care for the people who need us by donating to our Ray of Light Appeal today.