My job

End of life care - 'it's everyone's business'

Jane Naismith, nurse consultant at St Joseph’s Hospice, on why end of life care is everyone’s business
Jane Naismith

Nurse consultant at St Josephs Hospice, Jane Naismith, on why end of life care is everyones business.

What does your job involve?

I am nurse consultant in the community palliative care team at St Josephs Hospice in Hackney, east London. Half of my work is clinical and the remainder of my time is divided between education and training, politics and strategy, research and leadership. I provide leadership and support to the community palliative care nursing teams who cover the London boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham as well as the City of London.

Why did you choose to specialise?

One of my earlier jobs was in a community hospital and I worked for Marie Curie as a night sitter. I often worked alongside the Macmillan nurses and saw such a stark difference in the care of the dying in

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Nurse consultant at St Joseph’s Hospice, Jane Naismith, on why end of life care is everyone’s business.

What does your job involve?

I am nurse consultant in the community palliative care team at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, east London. Half of my work is clinical and the remainder of my time is divided between education and training, politics and strategy, research and leadership. I provide leadership and support to the community palliative care nursing teams who cover the London boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham as well as the City of London.

Why did you choose to specialise?

One of my earlier jobs was in a community hospital and I worked for Marie Curie as a night sitter. I often worked alongside the Macmillan nurses and saw such a stark difference in the care of the dying in an acute hospital as opposed to end of life care in the community hospital or at home where patients are well informed and generally have a comfortable death.

Once I realised that palliative care was where I wanted to specialise, I was successful in gaining a position as a support nurse with a local Hospice at Home organisation. During this time I began my undergraduate degree in palliative and cancer care. I’m absolutely sure this is the right specialty for me.

Where have you worked previously?

Before joining St Joseph’s I worked at Florence Nightingale Hospice in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. From 2004, I was in a clinical nurse specialist role, in 2008 I became the education and end of life lead, then matron in 2013 and, finally, lead nurse.

During this time I completed my MSc in education and advanced palliative care practice. This included non-medical prescribing and I have been fortunate to have been able to complete the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme with the NHS Leadership Academy.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety. I like inspiring and mentoring teams and growing talent. I like working with complex patients as I enjoy solving puzzles. I am passionate about service development to fit the needs of the population you are working with and create equity. Nurse consultants work autonomously so I have the opportunity to maintain clinical practice.

What would you change if you could?

A better understanding of the differences between specialist palliative care and general end of life care. Specialist palliative care is for complex and difficult cases and unfortunately we can’t see everyone. I would like to upskill and empower my community colleagues so that they feel they have the skills and confidence to support patients and deliver high quality end of life care.

I feel passionately that end of life care is everyone’s business, with all health and social care professionals working together to support patients to live well with illness and die in their preferred place of care.

What qualities do you think a cancer nurse should possess?

A genuine interest in people and the ability to get along with them and see things from their perspective. They need to be able to listen more than speak, but be technically knowledgeable so that they can answer questions and give patients confidence that they are there to help them.

What inspires you?

Seeing our patients getting the best quality of life possible while living with advanced disease. Alongside supporting people, developing and working as a team and making decisions together so that ultimately people get better care.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

Cooking. I do the full Masterchef thing. I find it absorbing – a menu can take three hours to prepare and it helps me relax. Sharing food with friends is social and I really enjoy seeing people enjoy my food.

What nursing achievement are you most proud of?

Being a Queen’s Nurse. The title is an honorary one for individual nurses who work in the community and who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient-centred values and continually improving practice.

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