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Val's story

“I joined St Oswald’s in April 1995 as a ‘young’ staff nurse on the Adult Inpatient Unit, I was then promoted to Team Leader in 1996 and Matron in 2003.

“After 17 years in this position, which certainly presented many twists, turns and challenges I was thrilled to be successfully appointed into an innovative and exciting new role of Matron - Clinical Quality Lead.

“I can’t quite believe it’s 25 years since I first walked into reception and was so warmly greeted by our lovely and greatly missed receptionist, Yvonne, who instantly made me realise that St Oswald’s was something special. In fact a few weeks ago I stumbled across an old diary where I had written “Great first day at the Hospice, so interesting … I have definitely made the right career move!

“Back in the day, we had 25 inpatient beds, I’ve queried this as I think it may be a typo! with all of our patients being with us for the last weeks and days of their life. There was a lot to learn but everybody was so helpful and friendly and I just loved being able to have the time to really get to know the patients and their families and provide good nursing care.

“Obviously, with 25 years under my belt there are too many memories to mention but ones that come to mind that are ‘suitable’ to share include; being allowed to call the doctor’s and the Sister by their first names…something that was unheard of in a hospital, the many Christmas Days which I’ve celebrated at the Hospice with patients and the fun we had getting involved with fundraising.

“I quickly learnt what a privilege it was to be able to help people at such a personal and private time in their lives, as well as learning that it’s the little things we do that make a positive and long-standing difference. I will always remember the first patient I cared for who was dying. The patients always show great strength and courage. It’s not unusual to be asked by a patient ‘Why me?’, a question for which there are no answers but I remember a young patient who was talking about his diagnosis and his approach was ‘why not me’. That really stuck with me.

“What I truly love about working at St Oswald’s is that fact that I’m learning all of the time, and being given opportunity to study and complete my degree. That said I have learnt the most from working with amazing staff and volunteers and our patients and families, as they are our ‘experts by experience’.

“When we experience challenging times on the Unit the team work at it’s very best with everyone pulling in the same direction. The level of support and encouragement that St Oswald’s provides is amazing, as well as the desire to always want to do better.

“Working in palliative care keeps me grounded and each day reminds me how lucky I am to have my health, family and a job that I truly love.

“Over the last 25 years the needs of the patients we care for, the pace we work at and the amount of staff and volunteers have all massively changed but one thing that has remained constant is the fact that the patient is at the centre of everything we do.

“I’ve met so many amazing people and been able to make a difference over the last 25 years. I’ve never had such a fantastic job and I very much believe that what you get out of working at St Oswald’s is very much based on how much you put into it.

“I’m very proud and privileged to work for such an amazing charity that has endured many operational and financial challenges to ensure growth and sustainability for many years to come. I’m excited to be part of the post Covid-19 plans and helping to shape the future of St Oswald’s Hospice.”

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