We talk to Eileen White, director of care at Haven House Children’s Hospice, Woodford Green, Essex. She has been a nurse for 25 years
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I decided that I wanted to be a nurse in my early teens. I had three older sisters who were nurses and they encouraged me to fulfil my dream of becoming a children’s nurse.
Where did you train?
Whipps Cross Hospital, first as an RGN, followed by a post-graduate course in paediatric nursing.
What was your first job in nursing?
I worked on a male medical ward where I cared for a gentleman at the end of his life. The job satisfaction was immense and this inspired me to further my career in palliative care.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Impatience. I have a tendency to want things done quickly and work well under pressure. This can have an effect on colleagues who prefer to think things through for longer.
From whom have you learnt the most in your nursing career and why?
The children, young people and families I have supported.
I had three older sisters who were nurses and they encouraged me to fulfil my dream of becoming a children’s nurse
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Listen to the patients and service users. Prioritise reflection and clinical supervision.
What keeps you awake at night?
Service development ideas, unfinished work and my husband’s snoring!
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
The privilege of providing quality care for a child or young person on an end-of-life care pathway.
What’s your proudest achievement?
The team I currently manage is my proudest achievement. The work ethic and pride that staff take in caring for the children and young people entrusted in our care makes me very proud.
What do you think is likely to change nursing in the next decade?
Attracting students to nursing now that the bursaries have been discontinued.
Which job would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?
As a little girl I wanted to become a news reader.
What job would you like to be doing in five years?
I hope to continue my role as director of Care at Haven House Children’s hospice helping to shape its vision.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
Excellent communication skills are essential – both verbal and written. Nurses must be pragmatic and adaptable in the face of constant change.
If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?
Improved communication so service users are not ‘project managing’ the professionals involved in their care.
What would your ideal weekend involve?
A trip to the west coast of Ireland, a room with a view of the ocean, coastal walks and a meal shared with friends.
If you could spend an hour in someone’s company, who would it be and why?
The health secretary, to champion the cause of children and young people with palliative care needs.