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When Sarah Kerry joined Ashgate Hospice as an Inpatient Unit nurse she planned to try it out for 12 months after former colleagues voiced concerns that the move would limit her career.
Eighteen years later she is still at the hospice caring for patients with a palliative diagnosis – now as the Day Services Manager.
Sarah fronts the hospice’s Day Services team, which cares for patients who have been told there is no cure for their condition but are not nearing the end of their life.
Despite enjoying the challenges and busyness of her former role as a nurse at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital (CRH), she insists it was a “constant battle against time and limited staffing”.
The hospice meant Sarah could focus entirely on what she went into nursing for – providing good quality and personalised care for each and every patient.
“I had very little awareness of the hospice when I first went for the job,” said Sarah, who is sharing her story during Hospice Care Week. “In fact, the first time I had even seen the building was when I attended for interview.
“I was 25 years old with an eight-month-old son and had returned to work at CRH when my son was four months old as my maternity leave had ended; I was breastfeeding, not sleeping, working full time and basically knackered!
“A good friend and colleague of mine had recently started a job at the hospice and spoke of how much she enjoyed it.
“She was able to spend more time with patients and their loved ones. As nurses our main aim is to provide good quality, personalised care, but it was a constant battle against time, limited staffing and ever-increasing demands on time.
“Working on a 34-bed medical ward was a fantastic way to start my nursing career, but the move to Ashgate ended up being the right choice for me. I haven’t looked back since.”
Sarah’s role sees her working alongside Vron, Gail, Sue, Tracey, Ami and Lucy in the Day Services team, as well as Rosie, Tracey, Rachel, Fay and Shelley in the Complementary Therapy team.
The Day Services team aims to support patients so they can maintain their independence, improve their quality of life and manage their symptoms.
She added: “My role allows me to support the team to try new ways of offering care to service users.
“Our aim is to help reduce some of the fear often associated with hospice care and enable people to access palliative care when they need it.
“Not only is working at the hospice challenging, rewarding and educational but it’s also humorous, warm and welcoming too.
“I always like to continue caring for patients personally alongside my management role as that remains my favourite part of the job – it’s just my bread and butter.”
From taking part in the Sparkle Night Walk with colleagues to caring for thousands of patients since she joined in September 2005 – Sarah says she has had too many “crazy experiences” with her colleagues to remember.
She says the best part of working at Ashgate Hospice will always be the staff and volunteers she works alongside.
“I am very lucky to work alongside some amazing people here at Ashgate; there is often so much laughter in my day and that is very important to me.
“Of course things can be challenging and upsetting but the resilience, openness and kindness of people never ceases to amaze me.
“As a team we have over 100 years’ hospice experience between us – that’s a lot of stories and experiences; we often say we should write a book… it would be a best seller!
Find out more about how Sarah and her team care for patients at the hospice on the charity’s website.