Marina has worked at Rennie Grove Hospice Care as a Hospice at Home nurse for three years. She is a Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Wycombe team and also a non-medical prescriber. She explains what her role involves and why she finds it so rewarding…
“Rennie Grove operates a unique model of care encompassing aspects of community care alongside specialist palliative nursing for patients with a mix of cancer diagnoses and long-term conditions, who are no longer responding to curative intervention.
“My previous role was a District Nursing Sister in South Bucks, and I like the fact I can use the resources and skills I learned in that role and have been able to develop them as a Rennie Grove Hospice at Home nurse. The contacts I made in my previous post are very relevant as Rennie Grove nurses forge close relationships with DNs, care agencies, local GPs and other healthcare providers. We liaise regularly by telephone, email and face-to-face at GSF meetings. I appreciate this close collaboration with other healthcare professionals, including the palliative care consultants, but I particularly enjoy working closely with the patient and their family. I’m able to draw on my District Nursing experience and combine it with the skills and knowledge I have gained at Rennie Grove, and work with other health care professionals to coordinate comprehensive, holistic support for our patients.
“For me it was a natural progression to specialise into palliative care, as it was an element of my District Nurse work I found especially interesting. Some people might have concerns about working in this field if they have no previous experience of palliative care, but Rennie Grove offers comprehensive support in the form of a four-week induction and six-month mentoring programme, as well as ensuring all nurses have clinical supervision every six weeks and the opportunity to de-brief and discuss development every six to eight weeks in a one-to-one meeting with their line manager. In addition to this, we have a weekly team meeting where we discuss patients and support each other. The teams are very close and we work well together.
“We also have an in-house education programme and access to external training opportunities. You may have the option to progress to Clinical Nurse Specialist level and train as a nurse prescriber – or to develop an interest in a specific disease area and become the ‘link’ nurse for that condition, attending study days and reporting back to the team. The whole team has equally important roles to play and we learn from each other continuously.
“For me, the nurse prescriber qualification has been invaluable. Being able to prescribe medication ourselves can be crucial for symptom control, especially in the evenings and at weekends, when out-of-hours services are under pressure. It enables us to manage a patient’s symptoms in a timely manner.
“There is no doubt that delivering Hospice at Home care can be demanding and difficult at times. But Rennie Grove gives you plenty of tools to help you manage the challenges, not least of which is time. There are fewer time constraints than some other nursing areas, and you can spend time with patients and their families, meeting their nursing needs and providing psychological support. As a guest in their home, it’s a great privilege that they trust you to care for them.
“Some people, especially nurses who haven’t worked in the community before, might have concerns about this aspect of our work. There is a need to be able to work in an autonomous manner, but equally there is support available as needed. We often double up on visits, especially on the late shifts, and our lone worker policy means there’s always someone who knows exactly where you are and who will be checking that you’re OK. It’s a very safe and supportive environment.
“Rennie Grove also embraces mobile working to maximise efficiency. Our IT systems enable us to manage our time effectively around patient visits and help us to keep expenses such as travel to a minimum.”