A lifelong privilege working in palliative care

Helen Meehan’s dedication to improving palliative care led to her being awarded a British Empire Medal in the new year’s honours’ list. As lead nurse in palliative and end of life care at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, she says it is a ‘privilege’ to nurse people at the end of life. Here, she talks to Jennifer Sprinks about her career to date

Helen Meehan’s dedication to improving palliative care led to her being awarded a British Empire Medal in the new year’s honours’ list. As lead nurse in palliative and end of life care at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, she says it is a ‘privilege’ to nurse people at the end of life. Here, she talks to Jennifer Sprinks about her career to date.

Abstract

As a lead nurse in palliative and end of life care at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, Helen Meehan always keeps one thing in mind when caring for patients. ‘People never forget how we made them feel,’ she says.

Ms Meehan, who started her nurse training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in 1983, initially worked in oncology as a staff nurse before training as a midwife. However, she soon realised she was on the wrong path.

‘I missed nursing and the palliative care that was so much a part of my role as a staff nurse in the late 1980s and supporting patients with cancer.’

She adds: ‘Supporting patients at the end of life and their families requires all of your skills in assessment, care planning, communication and providing compassionate care. It can be challenging, but being human and treating others as we would wish to be treated, is at the heart of all that we do.’

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This article was first published in print under the original title 'A lifelong privilege' in Cancer Nursing Practice: volume 15, issue 2

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