A NURSE who set up a service to provide hospice care in peoples’ homes across the Borough has retired.
Community Services Manager, Rose Davis, joined Wigan and Leigh Hospice in May 2013 to set up Hospice in your Home.
The team is made up of healthcare assistants and nurses who provide personal care and overnight sits for hundreds of people living with life-limiting conditions every year.
Rose said: “The idea was for a service that would give nurses and healthcare assistants more time to spend with patients at home.
“In the early days of Hospice in your Home I went to a lady whose husband was deteriorating, he having falls and she was on her own looking after him. We could spend a few hours a week with him and his wife said ‘I can go to the dentist!’ – she was so made up that someone could help her. It’s a simple thing – it’s not high tech medicine – but it made a huge difference to their lives.”
Rose began her nurse training at Warrington Hospital in 1982 meaning this year also marks her 40th year of nursing.
Before Rose came to the hospice she worked as a District Nursing Team Leader in St Helens.
It was while working as a district nurse that her interest in palliative care developed and her experiences of caring for dying patients led her apply to lead Hospice in your Home.
Caring for dying patients
Rose said: “We did a lot of palliative care in district nursing. It was something I got really interested in and found fulfilling.
“I saw the job advertised at the hospice and thought it was a really good opportunity and fitted with my district nursing background and experience in palliative care.
“When I was a district nurse we would sometimes come across patients who were dying at home with really difficult symptoms and who were in pain. We would go and give them medicine and reassurance but then we had to leave. The patient is left, their carer – usually a family member is left to look after them – and I felt they needed someone to be there with them a little longer to support both patient and carer.”
Hospice in your Home launched in November 2013 and cares for patients in the last few months, weeks and days of life.
The team can give medication, help with personal care such as washing and provide emotional support. The team consists of two registered nurses, an assistant practitioner and 8 healthcare assistants as well as two volunteers. The volunteers provide regular companionship for patients with a life limiting condition.
Managing two teams
In April 2019 Rose began to manage both the Hospice in your Home team and the Hospice Nurse Specialists (HNS). The HNS team has specialist knowledge and skills in palliative care. They assess and manage symptoms, prescribe; advise on issues relating to illnesses; advise on planning for future care needs and offer emotional support. The team cares for over 900 patients in Wigan Borough every year.
Rose said: “It was a great opportunity to manage the teams together, I’d always worked closely with their previous manager and the teams complemented each other in their care of palliative patients as both teams respond quickly to the patient and carer needs. I was really impressed with how the HNS team responded to the changes and the restrictions during the pandemic alongside their colleagues (Community Nurses and GPs) in the community. They work incredibly hard to support their patients at challenging times.
“At end of life everything we do has got to be right for that patient, their family and their carer. It’s an honour to be in someone’s house at that point in time and I know the teams make a huge difference to people’s lives. We’ve had people come to work for us because their relative was cared for by one of our nurses or healthcare assistants. That makes me incredibly proud. I’m also incredibly grateful for the support I’ve had from the District Nurse teams – caring for a dying patient at home needs everyone working together.
“Developing people has also been really important to me over the years: I’ve seen people really come on with their career development here as well improvements in confidence. I’m proud of the volunteer service too – there was a real need for that as there are many people in need of some companionship out there and I hope it will be extended.”
On her retirement Rose plans to do more gardening, spend more time with friends and family, study, read, learn new skills and perhaps volunteer in the future.
She added: “I have not seen enough of my colleagues over the last few years because of the pandemic but I’ll miss the people I work with and the whole hospice.”