According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of years that people have worked for their current employer is 4.6. But Helen Boxall, who has just been appointed Sister at Rowans Hospice, has worked there since it opened its doors in 1994. So what made her want to work in a hospice and why she has stayed for nearly 25 years?
So what made you choice to apply to work at a hospice?
‘I never imagined I would be working here so long actually, but I guess I fell in love with the place.
‘When I applied, I was working on a gynaecology ward so something quite different, but palliative care was always something that interested me, having done placements at college at another hospice. So knew I wanted to give it a go.’
What has kept you here as it must be hard place to work?
‘I thoroughly enjoy my job, I love what I am doing as I am making sure that people in my community with life-limiting illnesses are able to have a choice, if they are able to choose, to come to their local hospice to die or to have their symptoms managed. And I am able to make a difference to their quality of life, either managing their symptoms, supporting rehabilitation or providing the compassionate support needed to assist them to die well.
‘Also at Rowans we can do little things which can make a huge difference such as helping people have parties, celebrations and weddings here. We even had a monster trucks visit and managed to
get a patient into the cab of the truck, as it was a big deal for that person.
‘Obviously there are times of really high tension and emotions. It can be really difficult. However the support from senior team is fantastic, everyone in organisation looks out for everyone.
It is such a fantastic and supportive team to work with, I can’t imagine working anywhere else.’
How has palliative care changed since you started?
‘Palliative care as a whole has changed over time, people are living longer so people are having a lot more illness throughout their lives and so people diagnosed with cancer are also often living with another disease or another chronic condition.
‘So we are caring for people now who are much more poorly, people with much more complex needs. The service has had to evolve to keep up with the changes.
‘As a team we have always been deeply reflective and very innovative, always looking for new, better ways to look after our patients.’
Will the refurbishment plans make a difference?
‘The new plans are very, very exciting. It’s really needed. When I was showing a family around the other day, I really noticed how much the hospice needs a lift.
‘We have a lot of facilities here, but introducing the newest and best will be so beneficial in supporting the patients’ independence and sense of self. And to have secluded areas where we can actually speak to families will be fantastic!
‘Currently it is not ideal as we have to take them into a relative’s bedroom. I am really excited about the plans and I suppose that is a key reason why I have worked here for so long, as Rowans never stands still.
‘It is always focused on how to improve the care we give.’