Billy was barely a teenager when he decided he wanted to be a paramedic.
“I’ve always wanted to go into healthcare,” he explains. “I just couldn’t decide if that would be in nursing, medicine, or paramedicine. Then, when my grandma was quite ill – I was 13 or 14 at time, and choosing my GCSEs – I remember the paramedics coming out to help her. I saw them, and thought, ‘I’d like to do that.’”
Fast word six years, and Billy – now a second-year student paramedic at Greenwich University – is learning the trade, and living out his career goals.
Yet he’s not only getting the chance to learn the principles behind paramedicine – but put those new skills into practice.
Both on the job and – through a placement with ellenor – on the ward, too.
ellenor’s Northfleet-based inpatient ward contains nine beds – all occupied by life-limited patients, many in the final days and weeks of their lives. It’s a palliative care setting – a far cry, on the face of it, from the emergencies and literal ‘do or die’ situations paramedics walk into every night.
But, as Billy explains, the skills and learnings a hospice setting provides dovetail neatly with those required to thrive as a paramedic, too.
“The role of a paramedic is, first and foremost, to preserve life. But it’s also to provide dignified care; to ensure a person’s comfortable and reassured. Basically, it’s trying to leave someone in a better place than they were when you found them.”
“It’s also about just being a person to them. Listening to them. In paramedicine, a lot of our patients aren’t critically unwell – they’re unwell, but they don’t need us to intervene immediately. Which means we can really start to talk to them; to dive deep into all their issues. As paramedics, we need to take the patient’s wider circumstances into consideration, so we can properly help our patients with everything – not just clinically.”
Of course, there are few better places to learn these skills than in a ward where there are almost as many nursing staff as there are patients. Where, for staff, talking to and getting to know the patients is as important as the clinical care. And, where those exact words Billy used – dignified care – aren’t just a way of working. But a mantra to live by.
In fact, ellenor’s ethos of holistic care – that which takes into account the patient’s emotional, social, and psychological needs, alongside the clinical; and treats the person, not only the disease – is a strong match for Billy’s own ideals and worldview.