Carmel – Clinical Nurse Specialist in Team Herts 

Carmel started working with Rennie Grove Hospice Care in July 2015. Before joining us, she was a Macmillan Palliative Care CNS for nine years at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, and worked at Keech Hospice Care for 10 years prior to this. Here, she tells us why she enjoys being part of such a supportive environment…

“I worked alongside Rennie Grove when I was at the L&D Hospital, and they’ve always had such a great reputation for going the extra mile. When I was discharging a patient, there was always a sense of relief if I knew they lived in Rennie Grove’s catchment area because they were, and still are,  very much a ‘yes’ team. Nothing was ever a problem when I phoned them and everything was sorted out quickly and effectively.

“Since joining the organisation in July, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this, and it’s great that we’re able to follow the whole process through. If I start a job, I know that I can also finish it and achieve the right outcomes for the patient and their family. For example, I can identify the need, visit the GP, get the prescription, go to the pharmacy, and come back with the medication. This is something that is really unique and doesn’t get recognised enough.

“I’m Team Lead for Tring, which means that I direct that team and build links with local GPs to improve services within the area. Even though we’re individual groups, there’s still very much a sense of a wider focus though. We all work across the area and go where there’s a need, so we can help a different patch if it’s particularly busy. This means that the patient always comes first and that’s really important.

“For me, it took some adjusting moving to a community role like this after coming from a hospital environment, and probably the biggest challenge was building relationships and learning about processes. Little things about the locality like, ‘what time do pharmacies open?!’, but you soon get to know.

“There’s a really supportive network around you and that’s definitely helped me to settle in. When you join, there’s a six month period where you’re mentored – even if you’re in a more senior position – and I’ve found that really useful. There’s guidance and support no matter what level you’re at and you’re encouraged to plan your learning for the future and be the best you can be.

“The support continues when it comes to shift patterns. We tend to work one weekend a month and then an early and a late in a week, but you only work these shifts when you feel confident to do so because it involves being on call for part of the shift and responding to any emergency call that might come in. This is something that is discussed as part of the mentoring – you wouldn’t be thrown in at the deep end in your first couple of weeks.

“The shifts work really well for me. Early shifts start at 6.45am, so that’s when I turn my phone on at home and wait for a call. Late shifts are from 1.30pm – 9.30pm and we usually always leave on time.

“I’ve really enjoyed my first six months working as part of the Rennie Grove team and if you’re looking for a career in palliative care, in an organisation that cares as much for its staff as it does for its patients, then I would definitely recommend Rennie Grove. I thought I had a lot of experience, but I’ve still learnt so much already, and it’s the perfect environment to learn in with such a supportive network.”