I’ve been supporting a family where the husband, a young man, was terminally ill. I was privileged to spend those hours with them and to be able to give his wife who was emotionally exhausted and having a break in the garden a gentle word that he was nearing the end of his life. She held him while he died, it was heartbreaking, but also so rewarding that I could enable him to stay at home.
We become part of the families, and our support goes way beyond healthcare. Sometimes it’s using a bit of diplomacy when there’s conflict among family members about the best care for a patient. We care for the whole family unit so they have the strength to carry on caring after we leave.
You learn to read situations and find solutions. Older people especially are reluctant to leave their pets to go into hospital –it has been known for district nurses to even find foster homes for animals to encourage the patient to get the treatment they need!
I worked as a healthcare assistant when my daughters were babies, but I knew district nursing was where I wanted to be so I trained, working late at night when my daughters were asleep. But I couldn’t drive, so to get my first job I learnt in ten weeks!
I love being in the community. Each area is different. In some everyone looks after each other, some patients don’t like bothering their busy families so I may be the only person they’ll speak to that day or even that week. It’s so sad.
The support within the team helps us all get though. My mentor Jane and I worked together from the early days and are best friends. It’s important to let the staff know you appreciate them. I don’t know where our team would be without our admin assistant Gill Gribbin, she does most of our general paper work, which is invaluable, giving us more time with patients.
We’ve just had a letter from a lady whose father was in our care. I nearly cried when I read it and the person who gave it to me said it was an example of the Perfect Care Mersey Care strives to give – for our team every day is like that.