“Sometimes you really see the impact it’s had on a family and it makes you feel proud” Sue's 40 years in nursing
Sue is the Ward Manager at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and is soon to retire after 40 years as a nurse. Here, she reflects on her nursing career and shares some insight into what it’s like working for Sue Ryder.
Going straight into nursing
“I went into nursing straight after I finished school. I was so keen that I started straight away and I didn’t even have one last long summer holiday!
“I trained at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, which was renowned at the time for being the biggest teaching hospital in Europe. I actually appeared in a few episodes of the TV documentary series Jimmy’s, which was filmed at the hospital!
Volunteering for Sue Ryder
“When I was a student, I volunteered at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds for a short time. That was my first time in a hospice and I enjoyed it, but at the time I was keen to get my surgical and medical experience. However, palliative care always remained in the back of my mind.
“I qualified in 1984 aged 21 and I went on to work on a very busy surgical ward for 10 months before taking on a staff nurse role on a gynaecology ward. I then went to a medical ward, which I had worked on during my training and really wanted to go back to. It was the ward I felt most comfortable on and it felt like my type of nursing.
“I became a ward sister in 1988, so I was quite a young ward sister, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I looked exceedingly young - I think people thought I should still be in school!
“I think it was during this time that I became aware of the changes in palliative care that were happening. The hospital employed their first palliative care Clinical Nurse Specialist and I was really interested in what she was doing and how she approached looking after someone as they were near the end of their life. She was very inspiring to me.
“I was looking through the local paper one day and I saw an advert for an open evening at a hospice in Leeds. I had always had that interest in palliative care so I went to have a look and applied for a job as a staff nurse. I was there for 11 years and in that time I progressed to a Team Leader and Ward Manager.”
A special feeling
In 2014, Sue became the Ward Manager at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and is responsible for leading, developing and supporting staff on the hospice’s 15-bed inpatient unit.
“Before applying for the role I visited the hospice for an informal visit and I really liked the feel of it - I think that’s what everybody says - you feel a wonderful atmosphere here.
“What I enjoy about the Ward Manager role here is that you still have patient contact, and you can work shifts if you want to. I also enjoy supporting the staff on the inpatient unit to ensure they’re in the best place they can be - both personally and educationally - to deliver expert care to the patient and family. It’s making sure that everything is in place so we deliver the very best care we can.
“You also have the opportunity to work with different teams”
“The Ward Manager role leads the continuation and development of care standards, focusing on patient-centred care and this in itself is fulfilling in knowing you personally are making a difference to patients' and families' care at the end of life.
“You work as a member of the inpatient unit team, but also have the opportunity to work with lots of different teams across the hospice. You learn a lot about other people’s roles which is really interesting and by developing those relationships you can understand how to support each other better.
“It’s nice working in a small team. I think if someone was to come into this role from a hospital where everything is much bigger, they’d feel like they can be much more hands-on and ‘in the moment’.
A supportive environment
“I get a lot of support in my role from within the hospice, but also from other Ward Managers across Sue Ryder. Sue Ryder is a really supportive place to work and there are some really good internal training courses for personal development too.
“It sounds like a cliché, but working at the hospice is like being part of a big family and we all pull together for a shared purpose. We’re just doing our day-to-day jobs, but sometimes you really see the impact it’s had on a patient or family and it makes you feel privileged and proud.
“Good palliative care makes a huge difference”
“People can struggle with the concept of a ‘good death’, because they can’t see how any death can be good. But we’re all human, and we are all going to die, so it’s making that experience the best it can be for the patient. Whether it’s relieving their symptoms or giving them the chance to do certain things which are important to them.
“People only die once and the memories are left with their family, so good palliative care makes a huge difference. From a personal point of view, my dad died six years ago and if I hadn’t known about palliative care and the services we needed, then it could have been very different. It seems so unfair that I got what my dad wanted because I knew what to ask for, but that there’s so many people who don’t receive that vital care.”
Sue is retiring in spring 2022 and looks forward to more walking, travelling, bird watching and spending time with her family and friends. She also hopes to do some volunteering with her extra time.
Join our team and be there when it matters
Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice is currently looking for Registered Nurses and other Allied Health Professionals who are interested in joining the team as their new Ward Manager.
Find out further information on Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, the expert care they provide and ways you can help to support them.
A career in palliative care with Sue Ryder
If Sue's story has inspired you, you can find out what it’s like working in palliative care with Sue Ryder and search our latest opportunities.