‘I love being able to really focus on patients’, says Rowans Hospice’s new ward manager
Ahead of International Nurses' Day on Sunday, which celebrates the contribution nurses make to societies around the world, newly-appointed Rowans Hospice ward manager Karen Brickell talks about her expectation of the role and what she misses about working nights
I have been in my new role in the hospice as a Ward Manager for just two months, so everything still feels very new.
I have responsibility for making sure that our patients and the people who are important to them continue to receive outstanding care from staff who are appropriately-trained and feel supported and happy in their role.
I realise that it is a huge job and, a couple of months in, I am still really excited and nervous in equal measures. It is really important that we always give the very best care because we owe it to so many people.
We owe it to our patients and their families but also to our volunteers and our amazing fundraisers because without those people in our community who are giving their time, jumping out of airplanes, organising cake sales, putting 50p in a bucket or leaving legacies we wouldn’t be able to do any of it!
Before becoming Ward Manager, I worked at the Rowans for 20 years as a Senior Staff Nurse on the night shift. I have loved my nights, the team I worked with are brilliant. We deliver outstanding care, and all share a slightly odd sense of humour!
At night the hospice feels like a very different place; it is peaceful, settled and comfortable. It also feels very small at night because it is just the ward which is open. The only people here are our patients, their family members or friends and the nurses.
It is a really lovely atmosphere and I feel really privileged to have been working on nights here for so many years.
I have done some of my best nursing at night, just sitting and listening to patients while they make sense of things. Sometimes, when the focus of their day is people asking how they are and how they feel, it is really satisfying to have the time to just sit and chat about normal, everyday things like Bake Off and ‘Why does the newsreader do that with his hair?!’
A key memory I treasure is an evening my colleagues and I spent with one lady who had communication difficulties, so would have to write things down. The ward was very quiet so we gathered around the TV and ended up watching a programme we all found hilarious, although it wasn’t meant to be.
This lady just laughed and laughed at the comments we were making. Even the next morning she was writing us notes about the programme and comments we had made the night before.
I knew that I was ready for a new challenge and I also knew that I wanted to continue working at the Rowans, so although initially I was apprehensive about going for this new role I recognised that it was a great opportunity to develop professionally in an environment I absolutely love.
What is fantastic about working here is that we have the time to really focus on our patients. We can spend time giving personal care, or just sit and listen to what they have to say, or enjoy a laugh together.
I am enjoying meeting all the people who come out in the daytime and becoming part of the whole team, although I may sneak back in the night sometimes, just to enjoy the peacefulness.