Only one chance to get it right

Kelly Moffat tells us how she supports people living with a terminal illness and their families as one of nine Clinical Nurse Specialists based at the Marie Curie Hospice, Edinburgh.

Kelly with one of her patients, Alex Thomson

“I’ve been working at Marie Curie for almost two years now, and I find my role challenging but really worthwhile. I think that’s because I have only one chance to help people at this important stage of their lives, and to get it just right for them, and their loved ones.

“For many people, this means having all the care and support they need to be looked after, and to die, in their place of choice – and most of them tell me they want to be at home, where it’s familiar and comforting."

Planning for the future

“I spend most of my working day visiting between three to four people in their homes. I’m responsible for around 25 patients at any one time and, depending on what they need and the progression of their illness, I may see them once a week or every few weeks.

“A big part of my role involves giving people emotional support and practical advice, and helping them to plan ahead for their future. We talk about where they want to be cared for towards the end of their life and any support we need to put in place to make that happen, even if their condition or situation changes unexpectedly.

“Having these discussions can be hard when the person you’re looking after doesn’t know how much longer they’ll be around for. But the more I get to know them, it becomes that little bit easier to start such conversations, especially if you find the right moment to have them."

Looking after people’s wellbeing

“As each person is different, I try to find out, as much as possible, about their situation, how they’re feeling and what their needs are – whether that’s physical, emotional, social, spiritual or psychological.

“It’s great being part of the hospice team. We can tap into the expertise of our very experienced team of doctors, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, complementary therapists, social worker and chaplain.

“This also means our patients, and their families, can regularly attend the hospice for the day for a range of services such as a massage session, practical and financial advice, physiotherapy, specialist medical care, and spiritual and psychological support.

“And if they wish to, they can join in our social activities involving art, crafts, writing or music, while relaxing and enjoying the company and support of others."

A great privilege...

“The best thing about what I do is having the time to build relationships with patients and their families.

"I get to know each person, their hopes and fears, and care for them in the way they would want to be cared for. And that’s a great privilege for me.”