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Get to know: Tors, Children’s Clinical Nurse Specialist

This Children’s Hospice Week, we’re taking a closer look at Hospice in the Weald for Children. The service, dedicated to children and their families, is going through an exciting period as it continues to develop and plan ahead for the future. 

Here, we hear from Tors Barwick who recently joined the service as Children’s Clinical Nurse Specialist. Formerly of Great Ormand Street Hospital, she runs through her new role, how the service operates, and why the Hospice is special to her… 

My role at the Hospice

I’ve only been here since the end of February, but my role is to help manage the case load of patients. Visiting patients when they’re first referred, doing an initial assessment with them, getting to know them, getting to know their needs, what they want from the service and what support we can provide. Then, liaising with the different services that are involved in the child’s care,” Tors says. 

Tors Barwick

While the service is still relatively small it’s been great for me to have a gradual start. I’ve been able to get to know some of the children, go out with some of the support workers, and with Fiona, the lead nurse, to meet the families. We do whatever care they need at that time during our respite session. For some this may be play, whilst for others there may be personal care, medicines, enteral feeds or nursing assessments.  

“In my role going forward, I see myself coordinating with other teams to help establish ourselves as an integral part of the families’ care provision, and to keep us included with the other teams involved. And, in time, I will train support workers – although I’ve started to do this already – and help improve and build upon their skills. That’s a big part of what I see my role as, too.” 

Children’s nursing is holistic 

Tors continues: “I’ve really enjoyed the visits so far. It’s been wonderful. Getting to know the children has been amazing – it’s been really rewarding. One of my first visits was to a child who was struggling with pain. She is non-verbal, and her mum knew she wasn’t right and was overwhelmed and stressed.

Tors at her desk in the office

“Mum was feeling unheard. Working alongside her and providing support and input where necessary, this lovely child is now much more comfortable. Her smile has returned, as well as a teenage eye roll! It is so good to see her progress. 

“I love seeing change like this, and I enjoy building relationships with the parents as well. What I love about children’s nursing is that it’s holistic; it’s for everybody. It’s the family, it’s the siblings, and it’s the child as well. They’re at the forefront, of course.” 

Tailored and flexible service 

“Child visits are planned, and Fiona manages the bookings; we email the parents when organising sessions in two-month blocks at a time. We currently provide a minimum of five sessions over eight weeks for our families, but we’re always looking at this and whether it can or will be changed as our service grows. With this, we can be flexible. We ask parents for specific dates and times they may or may not want,” she adds.    

“It’s a growing team here at Hospice in the Weald for Children. And for us, it’s about supporting them [the child and their family] how they want to be supported – where we can within our service. We very much work with them and do what we can to help them. If they want support during bath time, for example, we will ensure they receive that and are factored into our schedule. It’s about flexibility of service and being able to support them. 

Tors visiting a patient at home

“It’s a new and developing service, and I love being here. I love the children and the team I work with are lovely. They’re fun, and we’re a very loud office! When you work with children, you have that kind of fun-loving personality, and we all have it. There must be a seriousness but also an element of fun, and the team here is skilled and good at what they do. They have made me feel very welcome.” 

Why I joined the team 

“I’ve always wanted to work with children,” reveals Tors. “Having worked in oncology for many years, which is very much my area of expertise, I then became a school nurse because my children were young. My youngest is about to turn 18, so I don’t need to look after them in the same way now!  

“I saw the role advertised and thought, with my clinical skills, experience, personality and the way I am – I’m certainly not tough and hard – end-of-life care and palliative care, the whole remit, was where I wanted to be. I’m really happy I went for it because it’s something I really enjoy being a part of.  

“Sadly, 10 years ago my father-in-law died here, so I was always aware of the Hospice. The feeling you get when you walk into this building is one of calm and compassion. It can feel very emotional. I feel privileged to be part of this organisation.”  

female child in wheelchair and adult female outside

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