Twenty years on, May Shurmer can still recall exactly how she felt as she walked through our doors for the first time.
“It’s difficult to describe – it’s just such a happy, welcoming place. When I came for my interview, and felt ellenor’s warmth for the first time, I remember thinking ‘this is a place I’m meant to be – this is a place I want to nurse’”.
Senior Staff Nurse May’s career at ellenor started on the inpatient ward (IPW). There, May was able to exercise her love of palliative care; supporting patients at the end of their lives with her intuitive bedside manner and knack for putting families at ease.
Now, May works with the Living Well team – an arm of ellenor dedicated to helping people with life-limiting conditions, well…live!
“The focus here has always been much more about quality – rather than quantity – of life. We try to encourage them to get out and about; to get on with life. It’s not about focussing on the illness and the diagnosis. It’s much more about what your plans are, and what you’re doing; how family life is.”
Typically, the patients May works with have a long-term illness that – while not necessarily life-ending – will still impact on their physical, mental, or social capabilities. These conditions can include Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Parkinson’s, COPD, Cancer, or heart disease.
“We don’t focus on the disability, but the ability. What can you do? What would you like to do better, and how can we get you there? We help them to believe in themselves”.
Part of the Living Well’s team remit, then, is to help these patients set goals. These run the gamut from the heart-warming – fulfilling a lifelong wish to marry a sweetheart, for instance – to the humble. For some patients, the forms that goal-setting may take can be as simple as shopping independently, or as sweet as meeting up with a loved one each week for coffee.
To achieve this type of ‘holistic care’ – a term which reflects our commitment to helping all aspects of a patient’s needs, be they emotional, spiritual, social, or psychological – May works with a wide variety of teams.
Internally, these include the doctors and nurses on our Inpatient Ward, as well as our comprehensive Hospice at Home team, which provides palliative care directly from the homes of its patients in the local community. May’s Living Well team also collaborates with physiotherapists, complementary therapists, and counsellors – to name but a few.
Externally, the Living Well team has extensive relationships with GPs, social services, and consultants, as well as local referral units.
“I always say that ellenor is like the orchestra – or that we’re the conductor. We bring things together for people, people who haven’t always had that kind of support: be it social services, occupational therapy, or financial support. Everybody has different needs, but it’s about being able to pull all those strings together, and at a pace that works for each patient and their family.
“One of the most important things we do for our patients is listening to them – really listening to them. Their needs can change quite rapidly, so it’s vital to understand exactly what they need."