There used to be a theory that only nurses with many years’ experience of patient care would have the skills and knowledge suitable for supporting people with terminal illnesses.
But as we celebrate International Nurses Day on May 12 - the anniversary of the birth of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale - that trend is being challenged now that recent graduates Louise Askham and Elliot Stonehouse have joined the team.
Both Louise and Elliot took up positions as St Luke’s Healthcare Assistants immediately after completing their nursing degrees with the University of Sheffield, having developed an interest in palliative nursing through their studies.
“We had experience of end of life care during our placements as students and we both agreed this is the sort of nursing we are passionate about,” says Louise.
“Coping with terminal illness is one of the most important times of a person’s life and helping to make a positive impact is amazingly rewarding, especially when you can offer that support to both patients and their families.”
Louise acknowledges that the work can be challenging but insists that the positive responses and the always welcoming atmosphere at St Luke’s makes for a positive working environment.
“You can build a really good relationship with patients and so of course it is difficult to see them become less well but of the other hand, it is so rewarding to know you are actually helping them through that process.”
When she first embarked on her nursing studies, Louise admits that she was planning a career within the NHS and particularly in a busy Accident and Emergency department.
“I couldn’t think of anything worse now!” she laughs. “St Luke’s is where I see my career developing.
“I’m from Sheffield and I knew about St Luke’s but I think you have to have been here and seen what it is like before you can appreciate just how much is happening.
“I have learnt so much since I have been here, both the clinical side of palliative care but also things like my communication skills have improved.”