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Stamford nursing assistant shares why Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall's Hospice at Home team have made a real difference during the coronavirus pandemic

The Hospice at Home team at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to help people stay out of hospital and let them spend their final days in familiar surroundings.

It has been providing compassionate palliative care in people’s own homes despite the challenges the year has brought.

Nursing assistant Georgia Dagnan, 30, joined the team in June.

Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough
Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough

As 2020 draws to a close, she reflects on her first six months caring for people in the community.

“I believe if people want to die at home it’s really important they have that option.”

Kind-hearted Georgia had always wanted to work at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice and was determined to become a nursing assistant.

“Because of the Covid-19 situation I was a bit nervous to start with but I thought if I don’t do it now then I never will,” said Georgia, from Stamford.

“A lot of the nursing assistants have been at Sue Ryder for a while and that has helped a lot. It’s nice to have their support and we all work together to make sure we’re tackling things in the best way.”

Nursing assistant Georgia Dagnan
Nursing assistant Georgia Dagnan

Georgia’s own experience of loss at a young age led her to a career in healthcare.

“My dad died when I was 16 and then my brother died when I was 21. I also lost my aunt recently to MND, so I just wanted to be able to help people and make sure that they are comfortable,” she said.

“I believe if people want to die at home it’s really important that they have that option. With the way things are at the moment and the situation with hospital visiting, I think more and more people are wanting to spend their last days at home – and I believe the Hospice at Home service will just get busier.

“A few years ago not as many people realised it was even an option to die at home but now more people know the Hospice at Home service is there.”

Although she started her new role at Sue Ryder at a challenging time for healthcare workers, Georgia quickly found her feet.

“I did a small amount of palliative care in my previous role, but working for the Hospice at Home team has been quite different. It’s really nice just being out in the community and you meet so many people,” she added.

“We have all the PPE we need and I feel quite comfortable going in and out of patients’ homes, although if people are hard of hearing they can find it quite difficult when you are wearing the masks. Even just being able to smile at patients is hard as they need to pick that up from your eyes.”

After experiencing so much bereavement in her own life, Georgia says it is rewarding to be able to ensure that other people have the end-of-life care that they want in their own homes.

“It’s really nice to know that you are making a difference,” she said. “Sometimes it might only be very small things but to the families it can make a big difference. There was a lady the other day who sat and did a crossword while we were there and she said she couldn’t remember the last time she had been able to do that.

“Hospice at Home allows patients to have their loved ones around them and it’s also nice to be able to support the families - even if it is just in small ways.

“I think it does take a certain kind of person to work in palliative care and, yes, sometimes it can be a bit sad, but what I take away is that we are helping people and that’s really rewarding.”

Sue Ryder is appealing to people to support its urgent fundraising campaign ‘We can’t stop’, so the work of Georgia and her fellow care and support teams can continue. To find out more visit www.sueryder.org/winterappeal20

Alternatively, if you work in care or nursing you could make a difference by joining Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice’s expert and compassionate team. Visit www.sueryder.org/jobs for more information.

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