Joanne Tweddle is one of North London Hospice’s 85 nurses. She’s a Clinical Nursing Specialist (CNS) who visits patients at home, and part of a team that provides end of life care to 2500 people a year.
As a CNS, Joanne provides pain and symptom management, plays a central role in co-ordinating care and guides and supports a patient, and their family, through the final stages of a life-limiting illness.
“It’s a real privilege to be let into a family’s life at a very vulnerable time. You want to be there for them, help and support them and ultimately make the end of a patient’s life as calm and peaceful as possible.”
Joanne, a mum of three, joined NLH in 2007 as a volunteer, offering complementary therapies. After a year she began training as a nurse and 11 years on she is one of the hospice’s senior Community Nursing Specialists.
Each day is different. “When you visit people in their own home you never know what challenges you might be faced with when you knock on their front door. It can be quite humbling sometimes.
“You’re often with people on their journey for a while so you can build a relationship with patients and their families. It can be very rewarding to help someone achieve the end that they want.
“It’s particularly hard when patients are young but so important if they want to stay at home in the family environment and we support them to do this. And when it does come to the end we encourage families to be together and keep calm. Often favourite music is playing in the background.”
But sometimes there is no family to sit at the bedside. “There are so many people who have no one. I recently cared for a gentlemen who was living in a bedsit and was about to be made homeless. We learned he was from the Windrush generation so together with our amazing Social Work team we sorted his paperwork and were able to arrange for him to be re-housed.
“Some experiences do stay with you long after the patient has gone. I remember one man who lived on his own. He had mental health issues and didn’t really want to let anyone into his house. He pushed everyone away. But over time he built up such a rapport and trusted me. I was able to encourage him to come into the hospice and that is where he died, in a peaceful and dignified way. In the end, this is what we all hope for, don’t we?”
For more information visit North London Hospice