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'What do you think of when you imagine a children's hospice?'

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Since volunteering at a children’s hospice, Mikey can think of no better place to work

As I drove closer to the building signposted “Julia’s House - Hospice for children” I knew I was driving both my car and my career in the right direction.

I’d always wanted to volunteer, and eventually work, in this amazing place; where compassion is welcomed and putting the patient first is always the priority.

“Compassion is welcomed and putting the patient first is always the priority”

Today was the first step in hopefully eventually working for this amazing hospice. OK, so it’s only voluntary work for now, but at least I was getting my face recognised. My plan was to get my foot in the door and build myself a solid reputation with all the staff and families that work with Julia’s House.

This way, when I qualify as a children’s nurse, it might be easier to get a job working for them! That’s what I hope for anyway.

Hospice care work isn’t for everyone, especially a children’s hospice. But I believe there is one reason and one reason alone for that: lack of education.

What do you think of when you hear about a children’s hospice? Many people imagine rows upon rows of beds lined up in a big room where there are sick children cowering beneath the covers, waiting for the inevitable. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The fact that this place is a hospice is the furthest thing from my mind”

When I am doing my work for them, the fact that this place is a hospice is the furthest thing from my mind. The children are just children. They have been in and out of hospital probably most of their short lives, but this is not a place of treatment. This is a place full of fun, happy people doing fun and happy things all day every day.

It’s hard work, some of the kids I’ve helped look after have had me running after them excitedly for hours!

Your job in this environment is not to hit any targets. There are no bed shortages needing constant attention; often the inception for stress and controversy that inevitably lead nurses to become fatigued and weary-eyed in other settings.

“Money (or lack of) is not at the forefront of care here”

There is no such thing as politics or PALS (patient advice liaison service). Money (or lack of) is not at the forefront of care here, there is no hierarchy and people aren’t running around ferverently looking for a spare blood pressure machine. Your job is not seeing how long you can survive without taking your lunch break.

No, your job here is simple:

“When you treat the illness you win and you lose. But when you treat the patient, you’re guaranteed to win every time” - Patch Adams

Mikey Whitehead is studying children’s nursing and a past editor of Student Nursing Times

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