“My work is fascinating, challenging and inspiring”

News and Blog

Sarah Palmer recently started as one of our Admission and Discharge Coordinators. She shares more about what she’s learnt during her first month in role and how she’s continuing to work as a Healthcare Assistant on our wards at the same time.

“I’ve worked at St Catherine’s for over three years

My Nan, used to come to the Living Well Centre here, although she passed away in hospital and my husband’s Mum passed away under our care. I’ve worked in care for many years, including dementia and residential care, and when a role came up here, I thought “I’ve got to go for it.”

I’ve always loved working at the forefront and giving people personalised care. I get to work alongside my sister on the wards now too as she’s also started working here.

I’ve always been interested in different sides of St Catherine’s

I’m keen to learn about different parts of the hospice. When I finished my Level 3 Health and Social Care qualification last year I spoke to my managers and asked what I can do next?

I’m someone who can’t sit still and I’m always looking for opportunities to learn

When a vacancy came up for the Senior Patient and Care Coordinator (admissions and discharges), I went for it and got it. Now I work 38 hours a week – two days as Senior Patient Care Coordinator (job sharing) and two long days as a Healthcare Assistant on our wards. I have my hand in many pies!

I work Mondays and Tuesdays in the Senior Patient Care Coordinator role. It’s always fast paced as I have to follow up paperwork if we’ve had any admissions during the weekend, but I love it.

With my two roles, I’m still able to give close and personal care to patients on the wards, but I’m also able to see the whole process and to support people I meet on the wards when they’re first admitted and when they’re being discharged home.
I’ve been in the Senior Patient Care Coordinator a month now

I can’t believe the stuff I’ve learnt – the things I’m learning everyday are brilliant although there have been challenging learnings too. For some people we look after it can be challenging trying to put together everything they need and get them the help and support they need to move on to a nursing home or back home.

Recently we looked after a lady who had been with her husband for 60 years. They had no children but if she went back home, we knew the husband wouldn’t cope. It was difficult as I was helping to discharge her to a nursing home but it left her husband alone. There’s a shortage of nursing home spaces in Crawley so I was able to find one for her in Horsham but now her husband has to travel to her in Horsham. It’s life-changing for people and it’s not uncommon for people not to want to go into nursing homes when we’re discharging them.

There’s no average day but it’s always busy

This week alone I’ll have helped to discharge three people. Each discharge involves various work, filling out and sending package of care forms, chasing packages of care from CHC (Continuing Healthcare), ringing them and then getting to grips with the computer side of things.

As well as discharge I’m outside the hospice to meet people when they’re first admitted here

I attend morning meetings and if someone under our hospice at home care is on a waiting list and a bed has become available, I’ll call them, tell them we have a bed and ask them if they’d like to accept it. I’m the first port of call for people and after speaking to them and their family, I arrange transport for them to come to the hospice. I tell them I’ll be outside to meet them when they arrive.

Once I had a patient say “it’s nice to see a friendly face” when they got off the ambulance. I always see if there’s anything I can do to support people as they arrive. I offer to take a relative’s bag or ask them if they’d like a cup of tea.

I ask relatives to sit in our hospice lounge while I help the paramedics to settle their loved one in their room. I often help the ambulance crew transfer people to a bed as I’ve got that care background and those skills, then I go back to see the relatives. I always have an initial chat with them, asking, “Is there anything I can do? Are you feeling okay? Can I get you a cup of tea?.”

The responses and things people need help with are really individualised, but as people first sit there after arriving here, I can often see the pressure that’s been on them lifting. Now their relative is in the hospice they can go back to being a wife, husband, son or daughter instead of a carer. They can put their arms around their loved one and hug them as a relative because we’re taking care of the rest.

Over the last few months, we’ve had a lot of younger patients on the wards

Broadly between 30 – 45 years old. Lots of them have been diagnosed and there’s not been much time in between their diagnosis and reaching end of life. Young people stay with me more as they’re nearer my own age. Some of them haven’t had a chance to have children or have young children they’re living behind.

Sometimes, I’ll look at them and it could almost be a friend’s face. That’s when I really think ‘ouch.’

When I speak to older patients, they often tell me they’re grateful they’ve made it for as long as they’ve had and they’ve had a good life. It’s tough when someone younger is dying because their life isn’t fully done.

I work alongside all our teams and my door is always open

The colleagues I work with and being able to continually help people are the best things about working here. I’ve also really enjoyed learning more about CHC and fast-track funding, that’s been interesting. Colleagues give me such great support to do my job in both my roles and there are opportunities to progress here.

Fascinating, challenging and inspiring sum up my job roles here

Especially inspiring because the people I speak to in the palliative care team at East Surrey Hospital, our patients and their relatives all inspire me to do my job a little bit better.”

If you’re interested in joining the team at St Catherine’s and making a difference to people facing the end of their life please visit our working here pages to find out more and see our latest vacancies.