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Palliative and end of life care can be a rewarding choice

Palliative care clinical nurse specialist for children and young people Vera Clement describes why she is dedicated to improving choice for end of life care

Palliative care clinical nurse specialist for children and young people Vera Clement describes why she is dedicated to improving choice for end of life care


Vera Clement

Vera Clement, clinical nurse specialist at Cwm Taf University Health Board, provides direct patient care, advises and trains colleagues on palliative care, and works closely with acute and community teams and the local children’s hospice.

Her work saw her shortlisted for the RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year Suzanne Goodall paediatric award.

Ms Clement started her training as a state enrolled nurse at the Mid Glamorgan school of nursing in Merthyr Tydfil, 1976.

She took a job on a children’s acute ward at the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr after visiting it several times during her training.  

She spent more than two decades working on the ward, during which time she took her conversion course to become a registered general nurse, and a sick children’s nurse qualification at Swansea University.

Outreach services

During placements on this full time year-long course, Ms Clement got her first flavour of children’s community nursing while working with district nurses.

When she finished, in 2000, her manager moved her role out of the hospital and into the community.

This service was still managed from the ward, where Ms Clement had an office. ‘It was an early example of community children’s outreach services,’ she says.

‘We would see children who had been discharged and for those with more complex needs we would support their care at home. If they were admitted, we would follow them up in hospital.’

Ms Clement worked on this innovative service until 2009, when she realised that there was a growing need for palliative care for children and young people, particularly in the community.

In 2010, she started a Masters diploma at Cardiff University in palliative care and shortly afterwards took up her current post as palliative care clinical nurse specialist for children and young people.

Bank nursing support

She is involved with end of life care strategic planning across the Cwm Taf region and supports families’ choices over where a patient wishes to die: at home, a hospice or in hospital.

She is also working on improving access to bank nursing support for end of life care for children at home.

Her job covers patients up to the age of 25, and supporting the transition to adult services is an important aspect.

As part of the All Wales Paediatric Palliative Care Network, Ms Clement has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the paediatric advanced care plan, which has improved end of life care planning.

‘When a child is referred to our service, we go through that document, which is now used across Wales, to look at choices and decisions with the family,’ she says.

e-learning platform

Ms Clement is one of the team who has worked closely on the paediatric palliative care e-learning platform to improve knowledge among colleagues.

She also led the Paediatric Palliative Care Network in delivering a successful first joint conference withTŷ Hafan, a children's palliative care charity.

Fundamentally, Ms Clement’s work is focused on achieving better experiences for patients and their families during difficult circumstances.

‘What I love about the job is the challenge,’ she says.

‘It can be very stressful, but when I can provide the right support for a family, that is lovely. It is a privilege to be with a family when their child is at the end of life and supporting them.’

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