‘Nursing is as interesting and challenging as it is enjoyable and rewarding’
Jimmy Brash is our Director of Nursing, overseeing nursing across the whole organisation including the 25-bed inpatient unit, the Clinical Nurse Specialists who care for around 250 people at a time in their own homes, and the specialist lymphedema nurses based at the hospice’s onsite Woodside Clinic.
He spent a lot of time in hospital as a child with asthma and became interested in healthcare then, but it wasn’t until he was 28 that he embarked on his varied nursing career.
“I messed about at school and was a misbehaved a bit,” Jimmy admits. “I left without any qualifications and I had a range of jobs such as bar and restaurant work for a few years which I enjoyed, but I knew I didn’t want to do that forever. I got a job as a school caretaker so I could work during the day instead of the evenings, and I went to night school to gain O-Levels.”
He trained at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in 1988 and his first qualified job was on a ward specialising in kidney medicine. He later became a Macmillan nurse at Royal Preston Hospital. From there, he says, working at a hospice felt like a natural progression, and he started at St Catherine’s in 2003.
“I admired the work of St Catherine’s and wanted to be part of that, and to help shape its future,” Jimmy says. “The role of a nurse has definitely changed over time; there have been some fantastic achievements in medicine and nursing with an increased understanding of how people react from a psychological perspective; nurses are now encouraged to be more analytical and questioning in our approach which makes the role more technical I think.
“Some years ago, there was still a very paternalistic approach in not telling people the full truth about the potential of their illness.
“At St Catherine’s, we encourage patients, and those close to them, to be active in their care and we make every effort to work with people’s feelings as much as any physical difficulties. Our care is as individualised as possible; we give patients and their loved ones control over the information they receive to help them to think about what is important to them. We support them to make informed choices and help them maintain independence and control. There is greater focus on each patient as an individual now rather than their condition or disease being the sole focus of care and treatment.”
Jimmy, 60, from Buckshaw Village, adds: “There have been major developments with regards to regulation, accountability and the law too, which I find really interesting and thought-provoking – I quite like a challenge.”
Jimmy has a master’s degree in healthcare law, and believes that these on-going learning opportunities are another reason nursing is such a valuable and worthwhile vocation.
“Nursing is as interesting and challenging as it is enjoyable and rewarding,” he concludes. “It spans all sorts of areas in healthcare and the opportunities for training and career development are vast. Helping people in their time of need, helping them to feel empowered and realise what they can still achieve, and enabling them to experience quality of life no matter what their circumstances, is a real privilege.”
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