13 Nov 2020 Care
“I’ve strengthened my knowledge in end of life care”
Steph Bailey is a nurse on our In-Patient Unit and goes above and beyond to provide the very best care to our patients. Last October, Steph headed back to university to develop her knowledge in end of life care and spent her last months of studying in the height of lockdown. Here is Steph’s story.
In 2019, Kirkwood Nurses Steph Bailey and Sarah Reid took the plunge and headed back into education to study End of Life Care at the University of Huddersfield. Today, we are sharing Steph’s experience of life as a part-time student whilst working on our In-Patient Unit.
Steph has been a nurse with our In-Patient Unit team for over six years, having started out her journey as a student nurse in her final year of university.
“I first came to The Kirkwood as a student on my final placement and I absolutely loved it. The teams were very welcoming, and I felt that they were really caring in how they looked after patients. I always hoped to come back and work here after I had graduated from university.
“Once I had graduated, I worked for six months at Calderdale Royal Hospital the stroke unit until I was lucky enough to be accepted for a role with The Kirkwood.”
After five years of being a fully qualified nurse, Steph took the plunge and headed back to university to develop her knowledge on End of Life Care. The nine-month course, that started in October 2019, was to be completed alongside Steph’s full-time role at the charity.
“The course was based at the University of Huddersfield, which is where I got my nursing degree. Although I had only graduated six years ago, in 2014, the university had changed massively with more facilities for the students and an extended library!
“It involved a lot of reading. There were four assignments in total: a research-based essay, a presentation, a case study and a practice-based portfolio.
“It involved a lot of work outside of my usual working hours with The Kirkwood, and a lot of independent study. It was really good complete the course with Sarah as we were able to help and support each other throughout. We had the chance to get to know others on the course and hear about their jobs, what they entailed and how they worked to support their end of life patients.”
Steph and Sarah
Like Sarah, Steph completed the course in the height of lockdown, facing the everyday hardships of caring for vulnerable people during the pandemic.
“It has been really hard working throughout the pandemic. The main challenge has been the change in visitor hours as before the crisis, our visitor hours were open which made such a different to our patients. Families were able to visit when they wanted, and it gave a more relaxed, homely feel to their time spent on the In-Patient Unit.
“Having to wear face masks has been difficult as it creates a barrier between us and the patient, communication is more difficult now. But it hasn’t affected the care we provide; it has made us try to help more despite everything going on.
“When the pandemic hit, we still had two assignments due and our presentation module was altered from presenting to the whole group to just our course leader. There was some uncertainty at one point as to whether we would be able to complete it. It was a difficult situation, I really wanted to complete everything after putting so much hard work into it, but I was also tempted to postpone as it was hard to stay focused. I’m so glad I managed to complete it when I did!
“Now I’ve completed it, I’ve strengthened my knowledge on end of life care that I had developed over the last six years with The Kirkwood. It has made me more aware of the theory that underpins a lot of what we do on the In-Patient Unit. It’s been useful to find out how other health care professionals work and the challenges they face, especially throughout the pandemic.”
Sarah Shaw, Director of Clinical Services, is delighted to see Steph complete the course. Sarah said: “It is our ambition that all our Registered Nurses complete the Post Graduate Certificate in Palliative and End of Life Care, so I am really pleased that both Steph and Sarah have now completed their studies and we have 2 more of our nurses on the team with their Post Graduate Certificate.
“The In-Patient Unit provides specialist palliative care to patients with a life limiting illness. Therefore, it is important that our nurses have the opportunity to access education and development opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in such as specialised field of nursing.
“They have both worked really hard during challenging circumstances to finish the course despite these difficulties they have triumphed and I am very proud of them both.”
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