Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice celebrates six years of caring for people at home in Peterborough

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall's Hospice at Home team is celebrating its sixth year of delivering expert and compassionate palliative care to people at home in Peterborough, and is looking forward to giving more care to more people as the team grows.

Sue Ryder Nurse Nicola, who is leading the Thorpe Hall Hospice at Home team
Sue Ryder Nurse Nicola is heading up the Thorpe Hall Hospice at Home team

The Hospice at Home team first launched in October 2015 to provide emergency care to people at home living with a terminal illness, with just three staff.

Since then, the team has grown to a team of 18 Sue Ryder Nurses and Nursing Assistants.

And in the past year the team has joined forces with partners Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and Arthur Rank Hospice Charity in response to the pandemic, helping to rapidly transform and expand end of life care being delivered in people’s homes, helping to keep people out of hospital.

Currently, the dedicated team is providing over 4,000 hours of palliative care to people in their own homes a month in Peterborough.

Proud to help families fill their final days with love

Nikki Taylor is Team Leader, and she is proud of the Sue Ryder Nurses and Nursing Assistants who do all they can to make sure patients at home receive the expert care they need, so families can focus on filling their final days with love.

“The care Sue Ryder gives is supportive, reactive and completely patient-focused,” Nikki says. “I am so proud to be part of a brilliant team doing everything they can to make sure we offer patients and their families the very best care they could have at the end of life. We’re a team of specialists and every member is dedicated, compassionate and places the patient at the heart of everything they do.”

Providing care in peoples’ homes is something Nikki and the team are extremely passionate about.

“Providing palliative care at home is unlike any other role in nursing,” Nikki adds. “It is a very unique and special thing to help people spend their final days at home where they have their memories around them and they’re not governed by the number of visitors they can have. It gives people familiarity and comfort at a difficult time.”

Sally, a Sue Ryder Nurse in the Thorpe Hall Hospice at Home team
Sally is keen to bust myths about working in palliative care being sad and gloomy

Helping families keep their final wishes to each other

Debbie Roberts works as a Senior Nursing Assistant on the team and she agrees; “Providing palliative care at home is more personal and as care givers it helps us see the bigger picture. We see the family, their home and this helps us get a good feel of their life and their wishes.

“Helping people to stay at home means an awful lot to families, too. If their loved one has decided they want to be at home when they die we try to make this possible and make it as comfortable as possible. It is a real honour to help people keep their final wishes to each other.”

Working alongside Debbie is Sally Allen, who has been with Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice at Home team since it first launched in October 2015.

“When I first started the team consisted of me as Nursing Assistant and two Sue Ryder Nurses. Since then we have grown massively – especially over the last year. It’s a great team to be working with. The passion for palliative care in staff past and present has been and continues to be the same – it flows through us all.”

“Every day there are uplifting moments”

When Sally tells people about her job she is often met with the same response. “People say ‘I could not do that’ and I say maybe you can’t but there are people who are born to do this – it is their vocation. It’s a real calling.

“People think that our job must be all doom and gloom and yes there are times when it is sad and it can be emotionally draining, but every day there are uplifting moments we share with our patients, their families or members of the team.

“The support we receive to do our jobs is brilliant too. We’re supported by our managers, by Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall’s Family Support Team and we all support each other, too.”

More holistic, inclusive care

As the team grows, not only are they focused on giving more care to more people, but they’re looking to provide more holistic and inclusive care.

Nikki said, “As we continue to grow we’ll be giving more care to more people in Peterborough. At the same time, we’re looking at where we can improve our care too.

“Our Sue Ryder complementary therapists are teaching the Hospice at Home team to give hand massages using essential oils. Developments like this will help us give a more holistic service to our patients.

“We’re also introducing training around different religious needs so we best support our patients who follow different faiths and be more respectful and inclusive in the care we give. It is so important we make sure our care is given according to people’s wishes. We want to make sure our care is accessible and inclusive for everyone.”

A supportive team working together as one

As well as expanding and upskilling the team, Nikki is working hard to make sure the team continues to be well supported as she knows to be able to look after their patients as best they can, staff need to be looked after too.

“Here at Sue Ryder we really look after our staff. We’re really mindful of that and we make sure everyone knows where they can get help and support if they need it.”

And this support is appreciated by the team.

Sally said: “It is such a fantastic team to be a part of. We are like an extended family and we work together as one. It’s wonderful to be part of it and know we are making a difference. If anyone is interested in joining our team I would say do it. Sue Ryder is really welcoming and the team is so supportive.”

Debbie agrees. “I used to work in an office and when I look back then I would never have believed I could do something like this. I thought I would never be able to cope. But working in palliative care has been the best move I ever made. I go home every day with so much job satisfaction.”

The team says there has never been a more important time to join Sue Ryder to provide expert and compassionate palliative care either.

“I think there are more people who want to be cared for at home now than there ever has been before,” Sally adds. “The pandemic has resulted in some positives, as more people have thought about what they want to have in place at the end of life.

“I have already had this conversation with my own family and I have told them when I die I want to be at home, in my own house with my loved ones. I want everything around me that matters and to be able to do things that I want to do. It feels great to be part of a team that helps deliver that for people in Peterborough.”

Join our team and be there when it matters

As part of its ongoing growth, the Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice at Home team is currently recruiting for Senior Nursing AssistantsBank Senior Nursing Assistants and a Senior Registered Nurse.

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

A career in palliative care with Sue Ryder

If Thorpe Hall's team have inspired you, you can find out what it’s like working in palliative care with Sue Ryder and search our latest opportunities.