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.”