No night is ever the same but this extract from my diary gives a glimpse into one of my night shifts recently.” – Becca, Specialist Nurse, Night Response Team, Princess Alice Hospice

9-10pm Tonight I am working in the Night Response Team and I start with a catch up with various colleagues who’ve been working during the day, who brief us about the patients who may need us. The beginning of the shift can be quiet, so we use this time to make sure we have all the equipment and supplies that we’re likely to need ready in the cars. Sometimes we travel over 100 miles in just one night, and that’s why preparation is so important. If we had to keep coming back to the Hospice for supplies, it would limit the number of people we’re able to help during our shift.

10pm Our first call came from a family in Dorking, where a young family needed help. The Dad was a palliative patient supported by the Hospice at Home Team and he needed pain relief. When we arrived, the children were awake, and his wife looked exhausted. We changed his dressing, gave him some medication and did our best to restore calm. I talked to his wife and did my best to reassure her. I then got in touch with the Clinical Nurse Specialist about extra support for his wife. I suggested the patient might need night sits which is when we provide one to one care for patients throughout the night.

Night nurse Becca12am Our second visit was to an elderly man living on his own in Bookham. He called to say he was struggling with pain and couldn’t get out of bed to fetch his medicine. When we went into his bedroom, the patient was so relieved to see us. We sat with him while his medication began to work and by the time we left he was much more comfortable and ready to get some sleep. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a world of difference.

1.15am The next call came from a family in Kingston. The patient’s son opened the door and looked very anxious. His mother was distressed so I immediately went over to check on her. It was clear that our care needed to be extended to the son, who needed someone to talk to. So, whilst I cared for his mother, my colleague chatted quietly with him. By the time we left, they both seemed more comfortable and the patient’s son kept thanking us as he walked us to the door.

2.50am We took a call from a patient’s wife in Epsom who was very distressed. Her husband had died and she didn’t know what to do. Verifying deaths is an important part of our job as we are often able to get to the patient faster than an out-of-hours GP.

3.30am We arrived in Epsom. The patient’s wife was so distraught so we comforted her and made her a cup of tea. You could see she was still in a state of shock and didn’t want to be alone. We made sure we contacted her son and stayed with her until he arrived.

6.00am Our final call was from a lady in Chessington whose husband had a blocked catheter. We change a lot of catheters during our night shifts. It makes a huge difference as patients are often in a lot of pain, and if we weren’t around, it would mean a trip to A&E. We changed the catheter and left the patient feeling comfortable.

7.30am Our shift is nearly finished so we type up todays notes and return a few messages to the Day District Nurse teams.

8am As I drove home, I think about the people we have helped. The big thing about night care is patients can feel more alone because it’s dark and quiet. So knowing we are there means so much to a lot of people – knowing they’re not on their own.

If you’d like to help ensure our Night Response Team can continue to be there for local families when they need us, please donate to our Care through the night Appeal