We caught up with Sarah Turnbull, a Senior Nurse in Palliative Care at Newcastle Hospitals to learn more about her role and how Newcastle Hospitals Charity has supported her team.
1 – Can you please give us a brief overview of your role within Newcastle Hospitals?
I am the Senior Nurse for Palliative Care so my role covers a wide range. I line manage 4 Specialist Palliative Care Teams of nurses and admin support/secretaries at the RVI, Freeman Hospital, Northern Centre for Cancer Care and the Community Palliative Care Team. I am heavily involved in recruitment for the service, all staff HR related issues, staff appraisals and 1-1 meetings offering advice and support for my admin and nursing staff. I am also involved in policy and strategy development. I manage the financial budget for the service and work closely with our Accounts Manager. I work strategically for the Trust so attend meetings across the organisation and region representing the Trust.
2 – How long have you been working in Palliative Care?
I have worked in Palliative Care for approximately 27 years. I began my Palliative Care career in St Oswald’s Hospice then went to South Tyneside as a Community Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, here I finished my Palliative Care degree; completed my clinical skills training; and my Non-Medical Nurse Prescribing. I left and went to set up a Palliative and End of Life Care Service for the North East Ambulance Service which was a very creative role requiring communication, engagement and influencing skills. I also commenced an MSc/Apprenticeship in NHS Global Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care in Teesside University.
3 – What would you say is the most rewarding part of your role?
Making a difference for patients and their relatives is the most rewarding. That could include signposting a patient and their relative to the right person or organisation to help them, organising their benefits, prescribing medication, educating technicians and/or paramedics about palliative and end of life care and now managing specialists to be able to deliver that care with compassion and conviction.
4 – Has your Team benefitted from Newcastle Hospitals Charity Support, and if so, how?
Newcastle Hospital Charities have provided our service with a grant to create and develop a facility within Freeman Hospital for relatives of patients who are significantly deteriorating/dying. This private space will allow patients’ relatives to have time away from the clinical area to warm a meal, make a hot drink, shower and change their clothing. We have this facility at the RVI and it is called The Haven and relatives provide comments about how much the facility has meant to them in often very difficult and challenging times of their lives.
5 – What’s the main thing you’d like people to know about Palliative Care?
Palliative Care is not just about death and dying, many patients can be “palliative” for years so they are living with a life limiting condition and palliative care professionals aim to help patients live their lives with support and advice. Palliative Care offers symptom and management advice to patients and also psychological, spiritual, emotional support and social support. We also encourage palliative patients to consider their futures, this involves discussions about will writing, sorting out financial affairs and advance care planning including discussions about where they want to die. It is vitally important we know what patients want at end of life so we can help to facilitate that for them.
I feel honoured and privileged to still work within Palliative Care.
Newcastle Hospitals Charity supports Palliative Care at Newcastle Hospitals with ‘Havens’ at the RVI and Freeman Hospitals, dedicated spaces where family members and carers of individuals under Palliative Care can go to rest, shower and have a meal. We also fund comfort packs for these family members, including toiletries, snacks, tissues, a neck pillow, puzzle books and other items to help visitors freshen up and make this time more comfortable.