Julie’s journey to become a Palliative Care Nurse at Priscilla Bacon Lodge

"It is a privilege to provide comfort to both the patient and the family, and to know that I have been able to offer peace of mind"

Julie always wanted to be a nurse as she was growing up, but after leaving school, decided that she did not immediately want to become a Cadet Nurse, so became an Infant Helper at a local school.

She fulfilled her dream of becoming a State Registered Nurse in 1975 and spent the first 15 months of her career working night shifts on a Medical Ward. This time was very influential as Julie recognised that due to the number of patients within a ward, there was not the time to ensure that patients were supported.

Her nursing career continued with training in Midwifery, before taking a 20-year break whilst she brought up her family in other parts of the country. As the children were growing up, she worked as a Classroom Assistant and 1-2-1 Support.

When Julie arrived in Norwich she wanted to return to nursing, and after a 4 month ‘Back to Nursing’ refresher course, she wanted her focus to be providing palliative care, so arranged a placement at Priscilla Bacon Lodge. After her very first shift, she was convinced that this was the right place for her to be working that it felt that she “had come home”.

Her role as a Staff Nurse at Priscilla Bacon Lodge affirms her belief in the vital role a hospice plays in caring for those who are dying and reminded Julie of her earliest nursing years, “I had no time to sit with them on a night shift, but now I can be alongside them on their final journey. It is a privilege to provide comfort to both the patient and the family, and to know that I have been able to offer peace of mind”.

The physical reassurance that the staff can provide, in conjunction with the specialist medical care, imbues the Lodge with an incredible atmosphere, and means that the Lodge is a place of peace and happiness.

Julie recalled one case when there was an emergency admission at lunchtime on a Sunday. “The patient was distressed and unsettled, as his pain management was not in balance. His family could no longer cope with his care at home. After he arrived, he visibly relaxed, and his pain and distress subsided, despite no pain relief being administered. The hospice provided the right environment for him, and he died during the evening.”

During her 16 years at Priscilla Bacon Lodge, Julie is proud that the care remains patient-focused, and there is a holistic approach which ensures that the patient and family are fully supported. With better diagnostics, the hospice has an earlier role in the palliative care journey, with more active pain control and a greater emphasis on Outpatients and ‘Hospice at Home’ rather than acute admissions to Inpatients.

In summing up Priscilla Bacon Lodge, she describes it feeling as close to a patient’s home as possible with ‘dogs, flowers, children, music, food, as many creature comforts as possible and always birthday cakes!’ She also shared her thoughts on the new Priscilla Bacon Hospice as ‘A bigger and better version of the same – we have outgrown our existing location, so to continue, we need new facilities.”