Beginning our careers in palliative care with Sue Ryder

Sue Ryder Nurses, Karina and Emma, joined Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice earlier this year – Karina on the inpatient unit and Emma in the Hospice at Home team giving palliative care in people’s homes. In this blog, they share what their first few months have been like as part of the Sue Ryder team.

Karina, a Sue Ryder Nurse at Thorpe Hall Hospice
Karina, who is a registered nurse on Thorpe Hall Hospice's Inpatient Unit

“What I love most is being able to spend more quality time with patients”

Karina first worked in a hospital after qualifying as a nurse in August 2019. She became tempted to work in palliative care after supporting patients who were at the end of their life during the Covid-19 pandemic. She joined Sue Ryder in July 2021.

“Working at the hospital during the pandemic I found I enjoyed looking after patients who were palliative and end-of-life. It seems really odd to say it, but I found the work really interesting. I wanted to explore working in palliative care further, so I started off working as a bank member of staff with Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice to see if palliative care really was for me. It was and I decided to join the charity full-time.

“Working in a hospice is very different to working in a hospital – they are both busy environments, but in a different way.

“What I love most about palliative care is being able to spend more quality time with patients to make sure they are comfortable. A big part of my role as a registered nurse on the inpatient unit is symptom control. When we’re able to get a patient’s pain and sickness under control so they can go home and we’ve helped give them more time, it is just so lovely.”

Karina says she received great support from colleagues and managers when she joined Sue Ryder.

“I haven’t been here long, but the support is amazing. If you need anything your colleagues and the management team are incredible. You can ask for the smallest thing and they will support you in any way they can.

“The work we do can sometimes be mentally and emotionally draining, but Sue Ryder recognises this and offers clinical supervision, giving us extra support if we don’t want to speak to our line manager or the ward manager.”

Challenging perceptions of palliative care

Karina is really keen to challenge people’s misconception that working in a hospice is depressing.

“There is so much work to be done in changing people’s perceptions about hospices. People still think they are dark and dreary places where people come to die. Yes, some people do come in and die, but hospices are the complete opposite. They are full of life, and with our expert symptom control and support we more often than not help patients go home to achieve the things they still want to do.

“Palliative care is not as depressing as people think. Yes it is still very sad, but when you know a patient is no longer in pain and their death is as peaceful as it could be, it is rewarding. Rewarding might be the wrong word to use, but that is exactly how it feels.

“When I tell people working in palliative care isn’t depressing as they think, they look at me like I am mad. Then I explain what we do. The care given here is so supportive and caring. Sue Ryder really is there when you need them to be. I know that’s a ‘Sue Ryder’ thing to say, but it is so true.”

“If you find palliative care is for you, just go for it!”

Karina plans to specialise in palliative care and hopes to become a complete palliative care nurse. Through sharing her experience of joining Sue Ryder she hopes she can encourage other registered nurses at a similar stage in their career to find out more about a career in palliative care too.

“To anyone wanting to work in palliative care that might not have done it before or even to anyone who might have not even considered this area of nursing, I would really recommend trying it as bank member of staff. And if you find palliative care is for you, just go for it!

“At first I was apprehensive coming from a hospital to a hospice as it was somewhere completely different, but hospices really are great places to work. I am someone who overthinks everything and a week before I was due to join I thought ‘Have I made the right choice? Is this going to be for me?’ But I have never been happier.”

Emma, a Sue Ryder Nurse at Thorpe Hall Hospice
Senior nurse, Emma, leads the Thorpe Hall Hospice at Home team

Making a real difference

Karina’s words are echoed by Emma, who joined Thorpe Hall’s Hospice at Home team after working as a district nurse.

“To anyone considering a career in palliative care, I would say go for it! It is a very rewarding role being able to support patients at the end of their life and make a real difference.

Training and support

 “Sue Ryder is a fantastic organisation, and there are also plenty of opportunities for training and lots of support given if you don’t have the experience to assist you within your new role.

“Recently I attended a psychological skills day with a psychologist, which I found really helpful. Anxiety and fear of the unknown can be scary for people at the end of life, and now I have ways of talking to them and reassuring them to help. It was brilliant to look at a different aspect of care alongside the physical care we give. The care Sue Ryder gives is truly holistic. We care for the whole person.”

Emma became interested in palliative care after completing a palliative care module while working as a District Nurse.

“The palliative care course really reignited my passions for palliative care. As a district nurse, I had elements of palliative care in my role, but I really wanted to focus and specialise in this area of nursing more.

“When the job at Thorpe Hall Hospice came up, I knew this would be a job that I would enjoy and that I could bring experience of my previous role to, along with my learning from the palliative care course.”

Giving end-of-life care in the community

“What I love most about giving palliative care in the community is the one to one aspect of being able to spend time with patients at what is such a difficult and challenging time to try and make a difference to them.”

“To help someone at the end of life is such a privilege and being able to support them in this point in time in their home is a huge privilege.”

Helping people to achieve their ultimate wish

There are many things Emma says she enjoys about the role, but she says spending time with patients and their families is what she enjoys most.

“I enjoy spending time with patients and their families, helping them to achieve their ultimate wish - whether that is to stay at home or assist them in getting into the hospice if that is what they want.

“We also help their families and friends too, and this is so rewarding.”

Starting at Thorpe Hall Hospice

Emma joined Sue Ryder in January 2021 and was warmly welcomed while being offered lots of support from her team and managers.

“When I joined I had huge support from the existing team members, who helped me integrate into the team. Everyone was really welcoming.

“As senior nurse I have really enjoyed supporting our nursing assistants and welcoming trainee nurses onto insights days with us out in the community too. Palliative care is such an important part of nurse training and feedback from our trainees is that they find their time with us really insightful. To hear student’s feedback that experiencing palliative care in the community has helped open up new avenues for them is just fantastic.”

It's not just a job

Emma hopes to develop her skills in palliative care further too.

“Anywhere within palliative realms in the community is where I want to stay. I really want to make sure I keep a hands on role in patient care whilst pursuing more academic study alongside what I am doing, maybe studying more modules towards a degree in palliative care.”

Working in palliative care is not a job, it is a vocation. To be able to come into work every day and love what you do is really important to me. Working at Sue Ryder is so patient-focused, rewarding and a privilege.”

Join the Sue Ryder team

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is currently recruiting an Admissions and Discharge Coordinator (Registered Professional), Registered Nurse – Inpatient UnitSenior Nurse -Hospice at HomeSenior Nursing Assistant – Hospice at Home and Senior Staff Nurse – Palliative Care.

As part of our team, you'll be helping to provide expert, compassionate end-of-life care when it matters and helping people live the best life they possibly can, even through the toughest times.

Find out more information about Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, the expert end-of-life care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

Contact our recruitment team

If you have any questions or would like information about a palliative care role with Sue Ryder, you can email our recruitment team, who will be happy to help.