Tina’s Story

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“I joined St Catherine’s in February 2017.

It was a career change for me as I was a teaching assistant and karate teacher before. I first thought about working here when two very close family members were diagnosed with cancer. One was a children’s nurse and was cared for at St Catherine’s. Their expert support made a massive difference. When I saw the care she had, compared to the care my other family member had in hospital, it was so different. I knew I’d like to help people have that kind of care.

My close family members died eight weeks apart so it was a hard time, but I thought that one day I’d like to give something back and to work at the hospice.

Initially, I applied for a Housekeeping role as I wanted to get experience working in the hospice environment. I loved it and although I wasn’t medical I had a lot of interaction with patients and their families on the wards. People spoke to me a lot when I was working in Housekeeping. I think sometimes people can feel stuck in the bubble of their illness and it’s nice for them to have someone chat to them about day-to-day things and remind them that they’re more than their illness.

Working at the hospice was a lot better that I had expected. It’s a really positive place and I hadn’t expected that. There’s a lot of laughter on the wards. And I knew I’d made the right choice coming to work here.

In August 2018 the hospice were looking for Nursing Assistants on the ward.

I had an interview and when they asked me why I was interested in nursing with no qualifications I said I have life experience. I have experience of St Catherine’s care, and I knew it was a job I could do. Working in Housekeeping had taken any nervousness I’d had away as I’d already seen and worked on the wards.

I’m now in a Nursing Assistant development role, working on the wards and doing my Care Certificate. And I’m really grateful for the opportunity. My mentors have been amazing. They’ve showed me the ropes and they explain things in a helpful way. I know if I need anything they’re the first two colleagues I can go to.

I’m in the honeymoon period of the role and I love it all! I don’t ever have a day where I wake up and think ‘Oh I have to go to work.’

I work a variety of shifts including long days and nights. I was a bit nervous about working nights at first as I’d never done them before and I didn’t know how the hospice would feel. It does feel different as it’s quieter but it’s a calm atmosphere. You can have quite deep conversations with patients during a night shift sometimes too. And it’s comforting for them to know that if they can’t sleep, there’s someone for them to talk to.

St Catherine’s has such a nice atmosphere. It’s not like when you see nurses working in a rush in hospital. Here, you’re allowed to take your time and everything is all about the patients. I enjoy sitting in the sun in the garden with people and I enjoy doing their personal care. People tend to talk to when you’re doing things like bathing or washing them and it’s the time when you find out more about them as a person. I love to find out about their families and what they’ve done in their lives. People reminiscence and I can listen and give comfort.

I’ve learnt a lot watching the more experienced nursing staff at the hospice too.

Watching the way they talk to people, how they’re honest when they don’t have the answers, and how they calm people down and put them at ease is fantastic for me.

It’s a really supportive team. And the support means no matter how bad a day you’ve had, things are okay. The whole team work together to do whatever we can to help our patients.

I remember when I’d just started working on the wards there was a lady who was upset because she’d had to cancel her birthday party. So we organised a tea party for her and her family here. It was like we’d given her the world.

The more you get to know people the more you can have an impact on their time at the hospice.

When I was working in Housekeeping there was a lady who loved cleaning. She used to take my feather duster and ask if she could help me. Allowing her to clean made her happy.

For me the best thing about St Catherine’s is the fact that we’re here for our community. And we’re here for everyone. It doesn’t matter who or what you are, or what you’ve done in your life, good or bad, we’ll be here to care for you and to make sure you have the best possible hospice experience.”