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Jennir Murphy Banner

Healthcare Assistant So Proud To Work For ellenor

Working as a Healthcare Assistant for hospice charity ellenor is a very demanding role, but Jennie Murphy finds it tremendously rewarding.

She said: “I get as much out of it as the patients do. They are just so grateful for the smallest of things. It’s sometimes the little things that mean so much to people and you always feel you have done a good job. I don’t have all the answers, but I can just listen.”

A people person, Jennie likes being at the hospice surrounded by a support network of colleagues and working closely with patients and their families. Although she has worked temporarily with the Education, Homecare and the Wellbeing teams, she is now back on the ward – doing the job she loves the most.

Jennie, 44, started with the charity in June 2004 as a nursing assistant. She admits that at first she thought the job would not suit her. In fact, she was a natural and soon impressed everyone with her compassionate nature and willingness to learn.

She said: “I was given a staff nurse as a buddy, and I remember going to her after about two weeks and saying I didn’t think the job was for me. I hadn’t really worked directly with death and dying before. My staff nurse buddy said I should give it another couple of weeks – that was more than 18 years ago!

“At the end of the day it’s that feeling of helping people, not just the patients but their families as well. I can walk out of the hospice feeling really proud to work for such a wonderful organisation as ellenor. That’s why I have stayed so long.”

While working on the ward, helping patients with personal care, oral care and helping prevent pressure sores, Jennie discovered that another important role was to talk to patients and their families.

“That’s another reason I like working here,” she said. “I’ve never felt under any pressure on the ward or that I could only give a patient 10 minutes of my time. If you sit with a patient for an hour, it is never questioned. Sometimes all they need is someone to talk to – and sometimes they would rather talk to me than to a member of the family as they can open up more.”

That is the same for relatives, and Jennie has always felt it is just as important to involve everyone in the family and think of every individual need.

During her initial 15 years working on the ward, Jennie was also working with care volunteers and students working towards their Care Certificate.

She said: “I did a course and became an assessor. I enjoyed working with volunteers, teaching them how to do a little bit more, to help with things like feeding, catheter care and oral care.”

Because Jennie enjoyed working so much with the volunteers, in 2018 she was given a new role within the education team. This also involved keeping the volunteer database up to date and assigning them to appropriate departments.

She said: “At ellenor we get a lot of support from the community. If it wasn’t for the supporters and volunteers, I don’t know how we would be able to provide the care that we do.”

But when Covid struck in 2020 volunteers were no longer able to come into the hospice and part of Jennie’s role became very restricted. Hospice bosses worked hard to find a new role to match her existing skills. She was asked to work with the Hospice at Home team, visiting patients in their homes.

She admitted it was a job she had always “shied away from” because she would be working on her own a lot of the time rather than part of the team she was used to.

Despite her fears, Jennie took on the role with determination and a positive attitude – focussed as always on making life easier for people with life limiting illnesses and their families. The pandemic meant quite a few of the staff at ellenor found their roles changing, and they all met the challenge head on.

Jennie said: “The Hospice at Home team were so supportive. They knew I didn’t like working on my own and often we would go out in pairs. I desperately wanted it to work but really, I knew in my heart that job wasn’t for me.”

Luckily for Jennie a job came up as a Wellbeing Support Assistant and she was invited to apply. It was a better fit for her, working closely with patients and liaising with other healthcare professionals including the occupational and physiotherapists.

She was able to work with the Wellbeing Team during their recent move to The Manor Hotel, Gravesend, where they will be based while the Northfleet hospice building is redeveloped to include a state-of-the-art new Wellbeing Centre.

Following the successful move, Jennie was invited to apply for the job she really loved most again – working on the hospice ward at Northfleet.

She said: “The skills I have learned and the information I have gained from my other roles will come in handy. I can tell patients and their families about all the activities on offer at ellenor, and about the homecare services because I have worked in those areas. But now I have come back to my calling; the ward is where I belong. I’m very happy here. I enjoy the patient contact and doing personal care.

ellenor has always tried to work with me and I’m very grateful for them letting me try these different aspects and very grateful they have taken me back on the ward. I just want to carry on with what I love doing most.”