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Hospice Voices

Ben's story

Ben began his Hospice in the Weald career as a volunteer nurse. As a student at Canterbury Christchurch University, he was encouraged to volunteer to aid his learning, but he also wanted to make a positive contribution to his local community. One year on, Ben is now a qualified Staff Nurse, working on the In-Patient Ward in Pembury. Here Ben describes what he’s learned so far, and how COVID has influenced his experiences.

According to Ben, no day in the life of a Hospice in the Weald nurse is ever exactly the same as the last! He explains how most days involve “spending time and chatting with the patients, which is something I really enjoy. I particularly love to take patients around the Hospice gardens next to the Ward, especially during the warm sunny weather. The gardens are so peaceful and you can really enjoy the sunshine. On a normal day I’d also be liaising with doctors and staff members across the Ward, and the chaplain on a daily basis, to keep them updated on the well-being of the patients. It’s all about working together to make sure each patient or family has what they need.”

“I really love seeing patients make good use of the Hospice Day Service as well, where they can take part in many different activities such as creative arts or music. Every person is unique. It’s such a shame that Hospice Day Service is closed at the moment due to lockdown, but it will be back open again as soon as possible.”

Ben explains he has had a very positive experience working with his fellow nurses and Hospice in the Weald colleagues: “Everyone has always been very welcoming and encouraging, right from the start. There is no such thing as a silly question, and I really enjoy working with my colleagues, including fellow nurses. The team really care about your personal development and are happy to teach and help you in your working journey, which makes such a big difference to you and your experience as a nurse. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues.”

“One patient I particularly remember is a lady called Sarah. You might remember her story, which we shared last year. When I asked Sarah about the things she wished she could do before she became terminally ill, she said she would have liked to have gone to a spa. The whole team pulled together across the Hospice to make that happen for Sarah and her family. The Summer house in the Hospice Gardens was transformed into a wonderful spa!”

“This was a really emotional day for me too. I was so proud to be a part of it, especially when we started to play spa music and all sat together. It was the most emotional I have felt at work, but this was a very rewarding and positive moment in my career as a nurse. The point was to help Sarah’s family treasure memories forever, but I will too really. Being able to do that for families is what the Hospice is all about.”

“It was particularly special because I also cared for Sarah while training for my student qualification, and she saw me learn, grow and develop in the process. We become quite close to patients if that is what they want – not everyone does. But Sarah was very open. She even sent me a congratulations card when I finally got my qualification. I will never forget this special and emotional moment.”

“For Sarah to take the time to congratulate me, when she had so much going on for herself and her family, meant a lot. It’s difficult to put into words what it means to work with people with a terminal illness. When asked what advice he would give to any prospective nurses, or to anyone who is considering working as a nurse at Hospice in the Weald, Ben’s response was simple: “Go for it! It’s a lovely place to work, with plenty of opportunities for development and a very strong network of support.”

Being able to make a positive impact on someone’s life, at one of the most difficult times, is such an amazing feeling. Even if those impacts are small, they are so important. I saw that whilst I was volunteering at the Hospice and still doing my training. To learn that so early will shape my nursing career.”

“I also feel really proud that we have been here, caring for patients, throughout the COVID pandemic. It’s important that people know we are still here for them.”

When asked what advice he would give to any prospective nurses, or to anyone who is considering working as a nurse at Hospice in the Weald, Ben’s response was simple: “Go for it! It’s a lovely place to work, with plenty of opportunities for development and a very strong network of support. There is lots of support from everyone who works here. There are not a lot of places like Hospice in the Weald that will provide this much support for their workforce. Hospice in the Weald staff don’t just care for the patients and their families, they care about you as a nurse as well!”

Paul Madden, Care Director at Hospice in the Weald, adds “We are so proud of Ben and all that he has achieved since starting work with us. It’s a privilege to help train the nurses of the future, and with nurses like Ben we know that the people in Kent and Sussex living with a terminal illness and those important to them are in good hands, and so is our future.”