“Despite everything, we could see in his eyes that he was laughing.”
Marie Curie Nurse, Ian Chisholm, loves working with people. He chose to work in a hospice rather than a hospital because it allows for quality time getting to know and caring for patients.
“Many of the people we look after would’ve been in hospital, in busy wards with limited attention from time-poor staff. But here, at the hospice, we have time to give people far more meaningful and intimate contact.
“We really care about meeting people’s needs as best we can. I love being able to help people who come to the hospice to the best of my ability.”
Spirit and humour in the face of adversity
“We had a chap who, by the time I met him, was quite close to the end of his life. He had a tumour on his face and had undergone various operations.
“He'd lost most of his face, including his jaw. We had to regularly dress the wounds, which would have been very painful for him. We would try and make the process as pleasant as possible, making conversation and cracking jokes.
“What was amazing was the spirit and humour that shone through just his eyes, despite him not having features to smile. Despite everything we could see in his eyes that he was laughing. That's stayed with me for years. Even thinking about it now chokes me up.”
A people person
Before retraining as a nurse, Ian had spent 20 years working for several hotels at Murrayfield Stadium, doing corporate hospitality for rugby matches and concerts. “It was hard work but a lot of fun”, says Ian. “I enjoyed the challenge of managing different teams, but most of all, I liked working with people, whether they were staff or our clients.
I wanted a career change, and to continue using my skills and love of working with people and providing the best quality service. So nursing was a natural choice.”
More time to care
“While doing my training at a hospital, I saw examples where people were dying but not getting all the care and support they needed. I thought that there must be a better way of doing things.
“I did a six-week placement at Marie Curie and knew it was where I wanted to be. When I first walked through the door of the hospice, I thought: ‘What a serene, comfortable and welcoming place this is’. It was a wonderful environment to start my new career.”
What it takes to be a good nurse
“Providing hospice care is not as different as people might think to working in hospitality. When I was a hotel manager, I was always trying to exceed our customers’ expectations. I think that, at the hospice, that’s exactly what we try to do every day.
“If you’re knowledgeable and confident in what you do, it can be a massive comfort to the people you’re looking after, as they’ll have more trust in you.”
Ian works at the Marie Curie Hospice, Edinburgh. There’s more on offer for people living with a terminal illness and their families at our nine hospices than you might think. See what our hospices have offer.