“It’s a privilege to care for people who are coming to the end of their life. You give a lot, but you receive so much more in return”

Alexandra joined the team at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in April 2020, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Here, she talks about her experience of working during COVID-19 and the incredible support from colleagues and the community.

Sue Ryder Nurse Alexandra in the hospice garden
Alexandra, Sue Ryder Nurse at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice

As a Sue Ryder Nurse, Alexandra provides specialist care to people living with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families.

A mother of four, she previously worked as a nurse in Romania for four years before moving to the UK in 2019. Alongside her role on the hospice's inpatient unit, she is currently studying for an undergraduate degree in Business Management (Healthcare).

“You hear all their stories, but you’re also there with them through the crises, the heartaches and sometimes the pain”

“When I first joined the team at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice, I was working as a Nursing Assistant. In that role you are usually the first person a patient sees when they come into the hospice and you take care of their physical, psychological and emotional needs, as well as supporting their family. You spend the most time with them and hear all their stories, but you’re also there with them through the crises, the heartaches and sometimes the pain.

“Now working as a palliative care nurse I provide the same care, but I’m more involved in pain relief, symptom management and helping our patients to be more comfortable. We are a big team at the hospice and we work in partnership to provide all the support people and their families need at a difficult time.”

A lovely place to work

“It’s a privilege to care for people who are coming to the end of their life. You give a lot, but you receive so much more in return. Even if you work from dusk to dawn and you are exhausted at the end of the day, you’re somehow ‘full’.

“You see so much love, even if it's with suffering, and you see compassion and goodness. It’s a lovely place to work, especially for personal growth as you learn so much from your patients and you see life from a different perspective.”

The outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic has led to some changes in the way hospice staff work, but Alexandra says that everyone has been understanding and the hospice team is continuing to do everything they can to provide expert and compassionate palliative care despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.

“For many patients we weren’t only professional healthcare workers we also had to be family as well”

“During the first wave of the outbreak it was heart-breaking when people couldn’t come and visit their loved ones. Fortunately, we were able to use technology such as Zoom to facilitate some families speaking to each other, but for many patients we weren’t only professional healthcare workers we also had to be family as well.

“When restrictions were at their tightest, there were patients who died with no family beside them and we were there holding their hand, reassuring them that they weren’t alone.”

Putting a smile on their face

“The support from the local community gives us such a boost, especially when we are all exhausted. I remember during one of the most challenging times we received a donation of some juices and sweets and they came with messages saying things like 'Go on, we’re there for you' and 'We support you'. It just felt like someone had thought about us and I could go back to my shift with a little bit more strength and do my best for my patients, so they could feel better as well. 

“We also received some lovely handmade items such as headbands. When you’re in your scrubs all day, having something colourful in your hair makes you feel nice and it puts a smile on our patients' faces too.”

Find out further information on Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice, the expert palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

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