“You just want to make the last part of someone’s life as good as it can be.”
Janet Rigby works as an overnight bank nurse at St John’s Hospice in Lancaster and says this is a sentiment shared by all of her colleagues there.
Janet, 57, originally from London, came to Lancaster three years ago after getting a job as a research associate at Lancaster University, where she also started a PhD part time in Palliative Care.
“I’ve worked in hospices in the North West for the last 25 years,” she said. “When I moved here I decided I would carry on and apply to St John’s to do bank nursing, which means I get called in if they’re short staffed.
“I love the contact with the patients and the families and it’s a very special relationship that we have got with our colleagues.
“There’s a lot of support and people are very good to each other.”
Janet says that the aim for staff is to make patients’ quality of life as good as possible.
“It can be very, very sad,” she said. “But actually we do have a lot of fun because we want to make this time in someone’s life as special as we can for them.
“I’ve helped organise to take people to football matches and I’ve even been involved in organising someone’s wedding.
“Anything special that people want to do, we’ll do it.”
Janet said that nursing at St John’s involved a “special kind of nursing”, where care was for the whole person rather than a particular physical need.
“It’s not just physical,” she said.
“It’s about the social and spiritual as well, and the whole family is involved, even sometimes people’s pets. “There’s a lot of flexibility.”
Janet said night duty ran from 8.30pm to 7.30am, and that during that time she would care for every aspect of a patient.
“It’s a special service and it’s a unique service.
“It’s about having the time –we aren’t rushing all the time, and we’ve got time to listen to people’s concerns.
“You’re very much aware that it can be someone’s last experience and also how their families will be afterwards.
“You just want to make the last part of people’s lives as good as they can be.”
Janet said that as part of her PhD, she was currently collecting data which would inform a set of guidelines on hospice building design in order to improve patient care.