‘You look after patients like they are your own family; it’s one of the most rewarding jobs you could ever do’
“I’m proud to be able to help people when they’re going through a really difficult time. Sometimes people ask me how I could do a job like nursing, but I just think ‘how could you not?’”
At 23-years-old, senior staff nurse Connie Gray finds that people don’t always understand why she wants to care for people at end of life. But for her, being there for people when they need it most has always been an ambition, after her own family experienced the dedication and compassion of nurses when her nana received palliative care.
“It really opened my eyes to what nurses actually do and what a difference they make to the whole family,” she says. “I saw myself in them; it just seemed like a natural fit.”
She adds: “The special thing about St Catherine’s is that the patients and families are being cared for and supported by the same small team of nurses, so you can really build up trust and give your all to each patient, which is what I feel a nurse should do.”
Connie, who lives in Leyland, studied health and social care at Newman College followed by adult nursing care at Manchester University, with placements at the Christie Hospital. She was drawn to palliative and end-of-life care, and started working on the inpatient unit at St Catherine’s Hospice in October 2018.
She has just finished a palliative care module through the charity’s partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, and says one of the great aspects of the job is the chance to take on additional training and qualifications.
“The biggest challenge is dealing with your emotions,” Connie says. “It can be heart-wrenching when someone dies because you’ve had the time to really get to know them and their families, and you do build up relationships and form bonds with people. You look after them like they were your own family, which is why it’s one of the most rewarding jobs you could ever do.
“There is an amazing level of support from all the team at St Catherine’s; there’s always someone to talk to about how you’re feeling and people are so encouraging and helpful. I’m really proud to be part of that.
“That incredible support network is even more noticeable now during the Coronavirus pandemic. Everyone is really pulling together and everything is so organised, which is really important when the future is so uncertain; it helps to reassure staff, patients and their families that they’re in the best hands. I will be proud to look back on this time and think about how we all adapted and came together to work through Coronavirus in my early career.”
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