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Kitty French: Why I work with children in palliative care

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It is a privilege to work with families and be able to look after and support them holistically

Nt editorial kitty french

It has been a dream of mine to work as a nurse since I was a child. I have always loved caring for people and meeting people from all walks of life. I wanted a job that was challenging and rewarding every day.

Working with children with life limiting illness is something that I have always enjoyed doing but before I started my training I thought palliative care was only provided at hospital or in the home and I wasn’t sure I had enough experience to do the role and build strong relationships with families.

It was after an elective placement at the Children’s Trust that I knew palliative care was something I wanted to do, because I wanted to provide holistic care. When working within the NHS I felt I could never give families my time, due to pressures and being so busy. Now it is so lovely to sit and chat with a family for an hour or two and know I am giving families my full attention and that I don’t have to rush off. The relationships I am able to build with the families are really important and play an essential part in being able to understand each and every family I work with.

When I left the NHS I was concerned I would lose all my acute nursing skills, however I have gained so many new skills and I’m learning every day. As well as attending regular study days and internal training, I work alongside our practice educator on shifts to get signed off on various nursing skills, such working with ventilated children, end of life care and children with tracheostomy. 

Every day is different. I’m looking after different children and always learning. The most surprising thing about the nursing skills needed is for this role is the adaptability: being able to react quickly to different situations.

We are like a big family. We all support each other and really pull together as a team during difficult times at work. Being new to the team, I had no previous experience of palliative care before coming to work here; I felt completely supported from all team members when I first cared for a child at end of life and worked alongside experienced members of the team. Thanks to this support I was able to provide the best possible care for this child and family during their final few days.

It is a privilege to work with these families and be able to look after and support them holistically. Working closely with a family is  rewarding and special.

When a family leaves after a stay at the hospice and they say thank you for the care you have provided, it means such a lot for me to know that we have given a family a restful stay. You’re allowing privacy for the family; taking away the everyday stresses from them and enabling them to concentrate on their child. Knowing you’re making the time special for families and helping them make memories to treasure is so important.

You’ll never regret gaining these skills and opportunities working in this environment and you should definitely go for it! I am sure in most professions it is definitely not every day you can say you love your job, but I do.

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