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Our Hospice at Home Team...

Meet the people behind the service


Lorraine - Matron

14 May 2019

Lorraine is the Matron of the Hospice at Home team, and help set up the service... 

On the 3 October, she spoke to Ronnie Barbour - host of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Drive time show - to update him on the campaign. 

Where are you based?
I’m based at the Arthur Rank Hospice in Shelford Bottom, in the Arthur Rank Community team office. I have a clinical caseload too, so I also visit patients in their own home.

What do you actually do? 
I’ve been at the Hospice nineteen years and I set up Hospice at Home about eight years ago. At that time, there was a national drive happening within the healthcare system for patients to be able to choose their preferred priorities for care and death. We really wanted to enable people to have a choice about where they wanted to die; so the focus was on avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and allowing patients to be able to die at home. 

At the beginning, it was set up as a pilot project to provide support to other healthcare professionals who were caring for patients who were at home. We started with just two members of staff and, gradually, as the demand increased, the staffing levels increased in response. Recruitment for our team has always been based directly on the demand for this specialist kind of care, which is why we need to recruit more staff now.  

A big part of what I do is support the whole team in the delivery of care. That might be talking through cases with them, advising on clinical management, psychological support or supporting clinicians to deal with their more complex caseloads. My job is to lead and support the whole team, including the Clinical Nurse Specialists, trained Nurses and Healthcare Assistants. It’s so important to have a happy team. I know I’m supporting them well when they are enjoying the job and getting job satisfaction in the same way I do. I’m a great believer that if you look after your staff and nurture and support them well, they will look after our patients well. Their needs run parallel. 

In terms of patient contact, I tend to see the more complex cases, or patients who require an urgent response. I also see patients who are waiting for a nurse specialist. I work jointly with my colleagues and share knowledge gained from many years of experience. I liaise with other professionals to coordinate care, advocate for patients and families and ensure that communication happens. Often, when we first go into people’s homes, the communication has been fragmented.  We try to make sure that everyone is communicating so that joined-up working happens with all the healthcare professionals involved.

What’s special about your role and what keeps you doing it? 
Getting it right; ensuring people are given the choice; that they do die where they want to and that we support families and loved ones on that journey. Our job is sometimes just to be there, walking alongside them, not necessarily being the one coming up with the solutions - just being there. 

It’s about making a difference but it’s also about educating our non-specialist colleagues. Our team can’t meet all the demand for care that we receive, so a big part of our role is educating the generalists so that they’re able to deliver the high-quality care too. They can then draw on us as a resource to support them in that delivery of care. As a service, the Hospice at Home team is evolving all the time. I think it is fair to say that we are inventing and creating ways to meet the need in an overstretched healthcare service. One of the things that enables us to do that is for individuals within the team to be flexible in their approach. 

We try to assess the approach required  for individual families and patients, and match that to the personality of the carer that is supporting overnight.. We have a real mix of some staff.  Some are quite mothering, some who are quite hands off and some who are just there in the background.  When we’re recruiting its essential that we get it right from day one and I’d say that all the staff in the team have special qualities that they bring. It’s important to get it right and trust your gut feeling. 

It’s really important to patients and families that we engage with them at a human level. We enable them to express their vulnerabilities when we, as professionals, express ours. Often by the time we get to a patient they’ve been through quite a lot and may feel like a ‘disease’ or a ‘number’, so us being able to meet them - as a person in their own right - has a hugely positive impact on them. It gives people that sense of being valued and can help them in their grief as well. 

I think the whole team would say that we’re very privileged to look after patients at this time in their life. Every day we face our own mortality and I think that, as clinicians, we are given the opportunity to come to terms with our own death. It takes an element of fear away from us when we work with people and we see that they can die well. Part of our responsibility is to normalise death and bring it back into society again. We very much have a can-do attitude and I think that’s made a huge difference to this service moving forward. I hope that I’ve instilled that through the team. We will say to people: ‘Leave it with us, we will have a look and see what we can do’. We’re happy to explore anything, so in lots of ways we’re a bit fearless. 



Help Us Be There Team

Amanda – Healthcare Assistant
Sarah - Clinical Nurse Specialist
Ann - On-call Nurse
Chris - Administrator
Lorraine - Matron
Kate - Complementary Therapist
Keith - Chaplain