Heather Allen joined Princess Alice Hospice as a newly qualified nurse in 2006 and is currently a Senior Staff Nurse and team leader at the In-Patient Unit. Palliative care has always been her preferred area of work and the Hospice was her final placement before she qualified.
“I work with an exceptional group of people in all areas of the multi-disciplinary team and there is a great sense of respect and support among all disciplines. Of course it can be a very sad place and some days are extremely challenging both clinically and emotionally.
“But, the sense of having made a difference and giving patients and their families support through difficult times gives me the strength to keep going.”
Talking about the experience and skills she has gained during the past eight years at the Hospice, Heather said: “Communication is the key. I can remember working with my mentor when I was a student and thinking ‘how do you know what to say?’ I have gained this skill through the guidance, support and training provided by the Hospice.
“Since I joined I have seen the complexity and expectation of our patients and families change and our training and development has been adapted to reflect this. My specialist palliative care experience has provided me with an excellence in symptom control and the holistic assessment and care of our patients.”
Talking about people’s perceptions of the Hospice, Heather said: “I believe the common perception of the Hospice is that patients come here to die and as nurses we spend a lot of time hand holding and having a chat. Yes, that can be an important part of what we do but it involves so much more.
“We see a range of patients with cancers and neurological disease for symptom control, respite, psychosocial crisis and end of life care. We use a full range of nursing skills to provide care to the highest standards and the training, equipment and developmental support we have access to, is second to none.
“No day is ever the same – I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”