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‘In children’s palliative care we help make memories’

With a shortage of qualified nurses providing children’s palliative care in the voluntary sector, staff nurse Julie Webber explains why she loves this rewarding role
Palliative care

With a shortage of qualified nurses providing childrens palliative care in the voluntary sector, staff nurse Julie Webber explains why she loves this rewarding role

The charity Together for Short Lives has launched a campaign to encourage nurses to consider a role in childrens palliative care in the voluntary sector, to prevent any further reduction in services for this already vulnerable group.

Workforce and development manager Gillian Dickson says: Our You Can Be That Nurse campaign is about shining a light on the opportunity a nursing career in this sector can bring.

The varied nature of the role and the opportunity to provide holistic care to the child and their family make this one of the most rewarding roles in nursing.

So many

...

With a shortage of qualified nurses providing children’s palliative care in the voluntary sector, staff nurse Julie Webber explains why she loves this rewarding role


The 'You Can Be That Nurse' campaign shines a light on opportunities in children’s palliative care nursing. 
Picture: iStock

The charity Together for Short Lives has launched a campaign to encourage nurses to consider a role in children’s palliative care in the voluntary sector, to prevent any further reduction in services for this already vulnerable group.

Workforce and development manager Gillian Dickson says: ‘Our You Can Be That Nurse campaign is about shining a light on the opportunity a nursing career in this sector can bring.

‘The varied nature of the role and the opportunity to provide holistic care to the child and their family make this one of the most rewarding roles in nursing.’

‘So many rewards’

Staff nurse Julie Webber agrees. She works at Rachel House Children’s Hospice in Kinross, Scotland, where she cares for children who have a palliative diagnosis and their families. Part of the role is providing end of life care.
 
After qualifying in 2002, she worked in ENT/neurology at Glasgow Children’s Hospital before moving to the psychiatric intensive care unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, and later a children’s development centre in Fife. She joined Rachel House a year ago.
 
‘The only challenges in my role are having the correct knowledge and experience to care for a child at their end of life,’ says Ms Webber. ‘And there are so many rewards.
 
‘I enjoy working closely with and getting to know the children and their families. It is lovely to be able to offer the children choices, engage with their wishes and enable them to make memories.’

Supportive environment

The post is Ms Webber’s first outside the NHS and she has found it a more supportive environment. 

She has taken part in in-house professional development opportunities, covering end of life symptoms and care and spirituality, and has also attended an external respiratory study day.

Staff also have access to clinical supervision sessions, a competency framework and leadership opportunities. 

‘The role has improved my nursing practice,’ says Ms Webber. ‘My clinical skills, such as PEG feeding, medicine administration and seizure management have improved, as well as my communication and listening skills, which allows me to be more empathetic.

‘I’m involved in decision-making processes and am a more autonomous practitioner as a result.’ 
 
Ms Webber sees her role as positive, rather than emotionally difficult. ‘There is help and support to overcome any initial difficulties,’ she says. ‘It’s been a good move for me. I love coming to work every day.’

About the sector

•    There are more than 50,000 children and young people in the UK who are expected to have short lives, and the number is rising.
•    Two thirds of voluntary services surveyed by UK charity Together for Short Lives reported that a shortage in nurses is resulting in a reduced care offering, due to bed closures and reduced respite, for example.
•    The nurse vacancy rate in the children’s palliative care voluntary sector is currently 10%, higher than the NHS nurse vacancy rate of 7%.

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