A day in the life of Lou, a Thames Hospice Nursing Assistant
I want to tell you more about my role and why it matters so much for our patients. I started with Thames Hospice in October 2020 as a Health Care Assistant and successfully trained as a Nursing Assistant last summer.
I’m working daytime shifts at the moment, this means my working day begins at 7am. I’m up at 5:40am each day, saying a bleary-eyed goodbye to my kids before I head to work. The day starts with being allocated to a ward, then having a handover from the Night Team. I then check with the Staff Nurse on duty what task they need my support with that day.
One thing we often support with is checking controlled drugs – these are very powerful drugs and I am trained to support the nurses in administering these. They’re given over 24 hours and need regular checks. These drugs are so important for our patients to ensure pain and symptoms are kept under control and they are as comfortable as possible.
We provide patients with whatever personal care they need. Where they are less mobile or unconscious this would include washing them and giving them ‘mouth care’. If you have ever not been able to brush your teeth, you’ll know how stale your mouth can feel. For patients who are unable to eat this feeling can be worse, so a freshen up does them so much good.
When we’re providing this kind of personal care for patients we’re always talking to them, especially if they’re unconscious or unable to respond to us. We’ll use the information we have from the hospital and close family to make sure they have the things they like, for example, putting on their favourite music. Our recent patient Sara* had a group of friends come and sit with her and recite a mantra for her – it was so peaceful.
All the team on the unit are there to care for the patient’s families too. Its small things that are important, like reminding them to go get their lunch at the café before it gets busy or that they can get a takeaway or stay the night if they need. They’re going through one of the most difficult things you can experience, sometimes all you can do is just hug them.
Nursing Assistants also free up Staff Nurse's time by taking blood samples, doing risk assessments and observations on new patients. There is always lots to do! At the end of the day I go home exhausted, I always hug my babies tightly and feel so grateful for what I have.
I love my job. It is all about making someone’s last moments easier. All this is possible thanks to our supporters, your support helps ensure that we'll always be there for the people who need us, thank you. Lou Stewart
*names have been changed to protect our patients' privacy
Thank you, on behalf of our patients, and from the bottom of my heart. Your donation to our fundraising appeal is helping to fund more Nursing Assistants like me on our Inpatient Unit to give more support to our patients and their families.
With your support and others in our community, we have been able to fund all of the five Nursing Assistant roles we set out to for their first 6 months.