I love my job. I work for St Peter’s Hospice
Because I am an administrator who covers for staff is several different departments, I get to work with nurses in different roles. The ones I assist the most are the Access Team.
The team does what it says on the tin – helps those who need it to access the care offered by St Peter’s Hospice. The nurses do this in two ways; manning the Advice Line and triaging all the referrals. They are a tightly knit and supportive bunch – RNs Jayne (team leader), Maria, Tania, Helen, Liesa, Sam and Moira, administrators Carole and Harry, and manager Graham. There’s also ‘bank’ (cover) staff who are treated as part of the family, including myself. I cover for Carole or Harry sometimes.
The 24-hour advice line (0117 9159430) is used by anyone who needs it, GPs, carers, patients, district nurses or those just needing general advice on palliative care or St Peter’s. It is answered by the Access nurses from 8am to 8pm every single day. Outside of these hours it is diverted to the Inpatient Unit.
Inevitably the life of the advice line nurse is unpredictable in terms of number and complexities of calls. The call can be anything, including:
- A distressed family member at breaking point
- A GP needing help with a complicated drug conversion
- A District Nurse needing advice on a syringe driver drug combination
- A frightened patient, alone and in pain
- A social worker needing information on SPH services
When that phone rings, they have no idea what or who they will encounter.
Every single patient referred to St Peter’s Hospice receives a triage telephone call from this team. In the year 2018/19 there were 2887 referrals received, equating to 8 per day. Allowing for much-reduced numbers at weekends and holidays, (when staff numbers are also lower) this can often mean 20 in a day.
During this telephone call, which can take anything from five to fifty minutes, the patient is asked about their current issues with their illness in an attempt to ascertain how St Peter’s Hospice can best support them to live the best life possible. They are also given clinical advice if needed and told about the advice line. The nurses offer them the choice of having a booklet sent about the different services on offer (see the SPH website if you would like to see a copy) and between them the nurse and patient decide the best path forward, usually a visit from one of the SPH Community Nurse Specialists (Info here) or attendance at Day Hospice.
Sometimes patients hear the word ‘hospice’ and think that they are being called to set a date to come in and die. Nothing could be further from the truth. The nurses calmly explain that the wish is to help to make both their own lives, and that of their loved ones, as happy, comfortable and relaxed as they can be.
Hopefully this has given you a snapshot of how incredibly hard this team works.
No wonder they call themselves the A Team!