9 Oct 2020 Care
During Hospice Care Week, we are paying tribute to the amazing people that make up The Kirkwood
As the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK earlier this year, our nurses stood side by side with our NHS colleagues to support the most vulnerable people in our community. As they worked tirelessly to keep patients and families safe, our team received a timely boost when Trustee Kath Hinchliff stepped in to offer her support.
Earlier this year, our Trustee, Kath Hinchliff, a retired NHS worker and registered nurse wanted to play her part in our response to the coronavirus pandemic. As a member of The Kirkwood Board of Trustees, Kath is more used to overseeing our work and ensuring our charitable obligations are fulfilled. But as a former nurse, she was acutely aware of the challenges being faced by our teams and decided to use her skills and experience to help out in any way she could.
Kath says: “Earlier this year, I got a letter from the Nursing and Midwifery Council because I only stopped being a registered nurse 18-months ago. They asked me if I would consider going back on the register in-order to help with the pandemic and how could I say no? They did all the checks, and I completed a form to return to work in the NHS.
“During that time, The Kirkwood got in touch with the workforce asking if we might be able to offer skills that may be of use in different departments around the organisation, should we become short staffed due to isolation or shielding.
“I felt that, as a Trustee, if we were expecting our frontline staff to put themselves in positions of risk, then I should be prepared to do it. I have the skills and I was able to demonstrate that Trustees as a group understood what our workforce were putting themselves at risk for. I was happy to do anything that would be useful”.
Kath took early retirement from the NHS at 55 and went on to do Voluntary Work Overseas. Kath spent three years in Camodia working with midwives and setting up a registration system for them
Kath generously agreed to volunteer her time on our In-Patient Unit during the lockdown. She was supported by other members of the In-Patient Unit nursing team throughout, and although it was a new situation for everyone in the team, she witnessed at first hand the high levels of skill, care and support each nurse provided.
“I worked as a support nurse throughout the height of the lockdown, which was great for me to be able to use my nursing experience and it reignited my enthusiasm for nursing and caring for people. I absolutely loved it, I felt like I was going back to my roots. My patients were just wonderful, it was so lovely to be able to talk with them, share their experience and help them.
“Even though it has been a long time since I was a clinical nurse, it never leaves you. The equipment was different, but the nursing care was exactly as I remembered. It was so lovely to be part of a team again. They were generous in sharing their knowledge and in helping me get to grips with the work and ways of doing things."
Kath on a sunny day at the hospice during lockdown
With tough visiting restrictions put in place following the outbreak of coronavirus, Kath saw the difficulties being faced by the patients and families in our care and the strain it put the nursing and wider team under when they were not able to care in ways they are used to.
“The services weren’t the same as normal, but the team made up for it in other ways. They gave more time to each patient because their loved ones were unable to visit and used technology much more to ensure communication especially with friends and families were maintained.
“Speaking on the phone isn’t the same as speaking with someone directly, and it was more difficult to get to know them as a family unit. That caused a lot of stress on the unit but there was a team ethos that just kept everybody going.”
Kath (far right) with Board of Trustees
The Kirkwood holds a special place in Kath’s heart, as her dad was cared for at the end of his life 25 years ago. It’s just one of the reasons she was so passionate about becoming a Trustee.
“It means a great deal to me; I’ve got that memory of my dad’s last days being peaceful and dignified. He was cared for, which is very precious. I have always had an interest in The Kirkwood and have always supported the charity.
“The Kirkwood has never just ‘rested on its laurels’ or relied on its reputation. It is a dynamic organisation that always wants to improve and do things better for the community it serves, but not only that it focuses on individuals at their most vulnerable, what they need and want, and tries to meet those.”
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