FOUR colleagues from Wigan and Leigh Hospice have been recognised for working for the charity for over 100 years between them.

Kay Smallman, 61, from Atherton has had 30 years’ continuous service with the hospice while Susan Callaghan, 48, from Hindley has completed 22 years’ service. Yvonne Tague has completed 21 years’ service while Vicki Rimmington has completed 32 years.

Senior Staff Nurse Kay began her nurse training at the hospice in November 1991 and officially began work as a member of staff in July 1995.

Care and compassion

She said: “We are meeting people at their most vulnerable both in terms of their physical health and their emotional health and we are supporting carers and families who may never have had to deal with the loss of a loved one before. As staff this can be difficult to address as everybody handles grief and loss differently and this needs to be handled with care and compassion.

“People often think the Hospice is a depressing place, but patients do not lose their sense of humour and very often have us in stitches when recalling events in their life. We`ve also held weddings and christenings during my time with the Hospice.

“I love what I do and where I do it. Like most jobs it has its challenges but the challenge is minor compared to what our patients deal with on a daily basis.”

Her calling

Healthcare Assistant Susan decided hospice care was her calling when Wigan and Leigh Hospice looked after her grandad Fred Collier who had lung cancer. Fred had two stays in the hospice before he went home to Leigh to die. He passed away aged 85 on July 4th 1999 and Susan started work at the hospice as a Healthcare Assistant on February 14th, 2000.

She said: “He was in Room 18 and I remember one day I went into his room. He was really upset and Debbie, one of the nurses, was sat on the floor holding his hand and that’s when I saw a totally different kind of care. When I turned the corner and saw how she was with him that stuck with me forever.

“I think a lot of people find death a difficult subject; they think it’s all doom and gloom but we spend time talking to patients, reminiscing with them, looking at their photographs.

“I just love palliative care and I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

The little things

Yvonne Tague, Senior Staff Nurse, said: “I always work nights and it’s a challenge but what makes it special is having that time to listen to patients. Patients are often awake at night and want to talk to you. You build up a relationship with them and listen to them. I hold their hands when they are scared. What makes a difference is often the little things – giving them a hand massage, giving them your attention. There’s nothing nicer than knowing you have done everything you can for that person.

“Patients are at the centre of everything I do and there is a contentment achieved knowing that you’ve done something – no matter how small – to help somebody.”

Great team

Finance Clerk Vicki Rimmington has marked 32 years working at the hospice. She said: “I began working at the hospice not long after leaving school and I’ve stayed because I’ve been lucky enough to always work with a great team. The hospice plays an important part in looking after the most vulnerable members of our community and I’m proud to play a part in that.”

Vicki McLoughlin, Clinical Director at Wigan and Leigh Hospice said: “This is a remarkable achievement to clock up so many years of service to the hospice.

“They have made a difference to the lives of so many and I would like to thank them on behalf of the hospice and all those people for their care, their compassion and their dedication.”