Katherine’s story

“Observing the way that St Clare cared for Dad, and seeing how personal it was, inspired me to become a nurse. They made sure that Dad had everything he needed, for himself as a person, not just as a patient.”

“I was inspired to become a nurse after my personal experience with St Clare Hospice. For the past three years, I’ve been in training at Southbank University, and just recently I returned to St Clare to work my final placement and complete my degree. It’s really felt like completing a full circle in my journey, coming back here.”

“For four weeks throughout June and July, I worked on the St Clare Inpatient Unit as a student nurse. When I first started, I was just getting to know the unit. It’s very different to working on a hospital ward. I started by learning more about the palliative aspects of nursing after Doctor Abbas sat down with me and talked through lots of things with me. He really knows what he’s talking about! I found that it’s really about understanding what a patient’s needs are, and working with the other hospice care teams such as the Patient and Family Support team, Hospice at Home, Day Therapy and Community services.”

“At St Clare, it really is all about providing personalised care and support for people. I’ve had such a lovely experience working here, having the time to give to patients and ensure that they have everything they need.”

“Sometimes, it’s just being able to go into a patient’s room and have a normal conversation with them if they’re alone, which I think people actually sometimes appreciate more than anything.”

“It’s been amazing to see it from both perspectives – that of a family member to a patient, and as working here caring for and supporting others.”

“My Dad was at St Clare four years ago, when he was really poorly. Irene, who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Palliative Care here at St Clare, was brilliant, and was able to get Dad a bed on the Inpatient Unit. Before that, I’d never even really heard of St Clare, and I’d never been to a hospice, so it was all new to me.”

“My previous perceptions of hospices were totally different to what I actually experienced. I remember that as soon as we came in to St Clare, we instantly just felt relief. It was so private, with Dad having his very own bedroom. It was bright, airy, and friendly, and everyone was happy and cheerful which gave the place such a lovely, unique atmosphere.”

“It was a blessing that Dad could come to St Clare, because the experience he, and the family had, was fantastic.”

“Observing the way they cared for him, and seeing how personal it was, inspired me to become a nurse. They made sure that Dad had everything he needed, for himself as a person, not just as a patient.”

“Dad liked DVDs, football, having a drink. We’ve got two little Shih Tzus who were able to come and visit Dad on the Inpatient Unit, which was really special. St Clare embraced all the things that meant a lot to Dad.”

“During his stay, Dad expressed that he hadn’t expected to come to St Clare on the afternoon he did, and felt like he never really had a proper chance to say goodbye to his home. He wanted to return for his own peace of mind, and the staff were amazing in accommodating his wishes.”

“St Clare helped us to get Dad home so that he could say goodbye and do the things he wanted to do properly, before it was his time. With a Guinness in his hand, shirtless because it was so hot, we drove down the M11 together back to our home so that he could sit in his garden that he loved.”

“Half an hour passed, and he said he wanted to go back to St Clare. He felt like he’d done what he needed to do, and he was happy with that. He was at peace. I think it was probably one of the best things St Clare could have done for Dad, and after that he was able to relax.”

“It’s the little things that I think made the journey easier for Dad; the nurses finding out he loved his garden, his dogs, and that he liked to drink, so he had beers in his fridge. It made all the difference to him.”

“Now that I’ve worked at St Clare as a professional too, I can see just how much effort goes into it all.”

“Dad died at St Clare Hospice in June, 2013. Four years later, I’ve come back to complete my final training as a student nurse.”

“I’ve gone from being the person in the room, sitting there and having nurses come to me to ask if I’m okay, to being that person for someone else.”

“As a patient or relative, it means the world when you are treated so well, but you only see what you’re presented with. Whereas, from a professional perspective, you see all the handover meetings, the team meetings and inputs from everybody, and just how much work goes into ensuring that patients get the care and support they need and deserve. It’s made me appreciate it all even more.”

“When Dad was at St Clare, we felt like we were the only family here. We felt special, and like we were in our own little world.”

“The whole family stayed over with Dad, my mum and my sister. Two nights before he died, there were about nine of us here and the staff catered for everything. They brought us bedding, let us stay on the sofas and in the family room – it was brilliant, and it wasn’t any bother for them. We felt like we were just at home.”

“Working at St Clare has made me realise that everyone is made to feel special, like they are in their own little world surrounded by the support of St Clare. Although it’s made me feel nostalgic, it’s really shown me how special the care is here.”

“When Dad died, I was doing my A Levels at the time, and my sister was doing her degree. A lot of the nurses said they remembered me when I came to work here on placement, because my sister and I were both studying in Dad’s room at the time! Back then, I actually wanted to go into biochemistry at university, but after Dad died I decided to take a year off because it had all been very stressful. It was in that year that I decided I wanted to go into nursing.”

“It was like an epiphany! I woke up one April morning, and decided I needed to make my application to Southbank University on a nursing course. I was so worried because it was such a late application, past all the deadlines, and I thought there was no way I’d get it. But then I got called in for an interview – and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made, without a doubt.”

“I became a nurse because I wanted a job that was rewarding. Being a nurse can be stressful, it’s not easy – but it has a lot of job satisfaction. I know that I am doing my job for a reason; to make a difference to others.”

“Everyone has experienced that difference in some sense. We’ve all had relatives and loved ones who have been poorly. But I don’t have bad memories of Dad dying – it’s not negative. I’ve got positive memories because we had such a good experience. It was peaceful and everything you could have wanted it to be.”

“Although it has been challenging to come back to St Clare as a student nurse, it has actually been a bit like therapy for me. Dad’s anniversary was on the 27th June, and I was working at St Clare throughout that period. Going into ‘his room,’ Room 2, and seeing the chair I slept on, his bed, and the patio he sat on, has helped me to deal with my emotions. It’s provided a sort of closure on everything. I remember when we left the hospice on the day Dad died, and everything was up in the air. It’s nice to come back with a clear state of mind and recall the good memories.”

“St Clare was where I was inspired to become a nurse 4 years ago. Finishing my nurse training here has meant a lot to me, and has been my little way of giving back to what inspired me in the first place. “

“The whole journey has opened my eyes to a lot of things. It’s helped me to appreciate what I do have, and after seeing the way St Clare supports people during the end of life, I think that’s how it should be everywhere. It’s so perfect in the sense that: although no one wants it to happen, if there was any way I could choose how I’d go, it’d be at St Clare.”

“I’ve also learned that you have to do things while you can – that’s part of the reason I was able to change my mind about my career at the last minute. I went with my gut and it turned out to be the best risk I’ve ever taken. Although being a nurse can be difficult, if just one person turns around and says, ‘thank you so much, you’re a life saver, you’ve made my day 10 times better,’ it’s all been worth it. That’s what I take home at the end of the day.”

“Working at St Clare was amazing, but being a part of the team was my favourite part. Everyone was so friendly and warm.”

“I’ve worked at St Clare for 4 weeks, but the staff nurses are there every single day. It’s not an easy environment to work in all the time – you’re still human – but the way they deal with it is first class. It’s second to none; you can’t get any better.”

“They’re brilliant, and they always made sure that I was OK when I was on shift.”

“The staff at St Clare made our first experience with the hospice so special, and they’ve done it again whilst I’ve been a student nurse! Everyone: the clinical staff, the volunteers, the kitchen staff, Hospice at Home… Everyone is really lovely, and it’s them I have to thank for everything.”

“Of course, the environment at St Clare is beautiful as well – absolutely stunning. But they’re only things. The team are the ones who make the difference. You’ve got to be a special kind of person to do this every day. They made the experience 10/10 4 years, ago, and they’ve done the same now.”

“If you’re coming to visit St Clare, my best advice is to be open-minded and to have a clean slate. We were all quite adamant on Dad staying at home, but in hindsight it would have been the worst thing for him. It’s different for everyone.”

“Be open to ideas, and just come and see the hospice. When we first came in, we instantly felt like this was where we needed to be. It was St Clare. Don’t be scared – it will be 10 times better than what you expect.”

“Now, I’ve got a job on an intensive care ward. I’m excited to start my career in nursing, helping to make a difference for people going through difficult times. With the help of St Clare and realising my passion, I can now look to give others the wonderful experience that we had when we needed care and support.

– Katherine 

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