"I volunteer every Tuesday morning and I can truly say that it is when I'm at my happiest"

Each month we are profiling one of our fantastic nurses to celebrate International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020.  This year is an opportunity to say thank you to the professions; to showcase their diverse talents and expertise; and to promote nursing and midwifery as careers with a great deal to offer.

This month, meet Judy Riseborough, a volunteer Auxiliary Nurse who works on our Inpatient Ward. As this week marks Volunteers’ Week we felt it was perfect to share with you Judy’s story:

Tell us about your current role…


I started my nurse training in London back in 1966 and since then I’ve worked in several types of nursing including as a midwife, as a Paediatric Nurse at the RVI and at the Nuffield in Jesmond. I now volunteer at the Hospice every Tuesday morning and have done so for the last nine years.  This is my second stint as a volunteer on the Inpatient Ward, I also did this about thirty years ago when my children were little.


I decided to return to the Hospice as a good friend of mine died on the Ward.  I used to visit her during the two weeks she was here and she was so well looked after it reminded me how amazing the care was. The staff have so much compassion, they restored my faith in nursing. 

Tell us about a typical day…


I volunteer every Tuesday morning and I can truly say that it is when I’m at my happiest.  I work with another member of the care team and most of what I do is to ensure the patients are comfortable. I clean their teeth, wash them, help them with their breakfast and anything else they need.  I get great pleasure from doing this and find it very rewarding. 


There is always a lovely atmosphere on the Ward. Obviously it is very sad at times but there is always lots of laughter and happiness as well. Ultimately we are providing a better quality of life for people for however long they have left or until they are able to go home.


I bring flapjack in for the team each week so they are always pleased to see me – and my flapjack!   

Tell us why nursing, as a career, is rewarding…


Since being a little girl I wanted to be a nurse, I love helping people and I get a lot back from doing this. I truly believe there is nothing more rewarding than looking after someone who is at the point in their life when they really need to be cared for and made comfortable.

I’ve worked in several roles during my nursing career, everything from birth to death and end of life care is without doubt the most rewarding. Being able to improve the quality of life for someone at such an important time is so worthwhile.


When my friend was at St Oswald’s she was so relaxed compared to when she was in hospital.  She was able to have a G&T, have visitors when she wanted and she was much happier. She was shown so much kindness from the staff and volunteers and the Hospice made a very emotional and tough time much more manageable. 

What would you say to someone considering a career in nursing in a Hospice?


Working or volunteering in a hospice can be difficult at times. However, providing such high quality care and a better quality of life for someone makes it so worthwhile. I think that the staff who work at the Hospice are a different breed of people – they want to make time to get to know the patients and put them at the centre of everything they do.  You really do feel that you are making a positive difference.


When I first started nursing palliative care didn’t really exist as it is today.  Being able to see first-hand how much the care has developed over the years has been wonderful. I can honestly say that there isn’t one member of the care team at the Hospice who I wouldn’t want to look after me or my family if we ever needed their care. The compassion, respect, dedication and kindness they show is like nowhere else.


To work in a hospice you’ve got to really want to do it as it’s not an easy job.  It’s not for everyone but if you do go down this route it provides a very rewarding and fulfilling career. It’s a real privilege.

It couldn’t be more timely that the World Health Organization designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The courageous work of nurses and other healthcare workers in the face of Coronavirus does honour to the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 and the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

Find out more about the Year of the Nurse and Midwife here https://www.england.nhs.uk/year-of-the-nurse-and-midwife-2020/

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