We’re here to optimise life and meaning in all your days

Categories: Care and People & Places.

Ever wondered what it’s like working as part of a specialist team giving end of life care? Occupational Therapist Dean Powell, who recently joined the team at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, shares his experience in the hope of highlighting the many rewards pursuing a career in palliative care can bring.

“Being allowed into someone’s house when their world has been turned upside down is a real privilege,’ shares Dean.

“People are allowing you into their home at a very difficult time. You get to hear their stories and their history and you also get to see more about people’s roles and how their diagnosis has impacted them.”

“I love being able to work alongside our patients and their families to help them process things in different ways. The courage people show in in spite of everything is incredible to see. It is a real honour and privilege.

“In our role we get to really build a connection and a relationship with our patients and their families, which means we get to do some really meaningful work.”

Dean, 48 and from Bishops Cleeve in Gloucestershire, joined Sue Ryder in May 2022 in what is his first ever position in palliative care. And he says he has been blown away by the support he has been given joining the team and the opportunities available.

“This is my first ever position in palliative care, but I have always been curious about this field of work.

“As an Occupational Therapist working in palliative care we need to be in tune with very subtle changes in a person and what this might indicate.

This is a whole new way of working and learning. It is almost like starting another career as it is so specialist, but the team here at Sue Ryder are great at sharing their knowledge and supporting you.”

“Speaking to the rest of the team their knowledge of the human body and the complexities of different conditions and how this can impact a person and what we should look out for is truly impressive.”

What has really struck Dean about his new role is the way Sue Ryder puts patients at the heart of everything.

“It can be difficult to articulate but here at Sue Ryder we see the whole person and the things we can do to support people is full of boundless opportunity. We don’t pigeon-hole people in terms of what they can do.

“Our role is all about connection and relationships and everything stems from there.

“We think about the person first and their world and then we think about our work and everything we can do as a service evolves from that.

“Luckily in this field we have the time to be able to do this. We can spend time to really understand the person we are supporting and their history, who they are and their roles and their routines.

“And as their condition changes we identify how these things change for people and we support them in making sense of these changes while helping them to live a meaningful life. Working together we re-evaluate and re-align people’s lives so they can make the most of every day.

“In a way it is still like rehab but in a different sense – we support people to maintain their independence and ability to make their own choices as much as we can for as long as we can. And to be part of that journey alongside the whole family is incredibly special.”

Dean adds he feels palliative care is a little known field of Occupational Therapy, and one he is passionate about raising awareness of among future occupational therapists and students.

“I feel palliative care Occupational Therapy is not a well-known field and I don’t feel it is discussed enough with Occupational Therapy students.

“The role of an Occupational Therapist is so vast, and I would say working within palliative care is its own specialism.

“For many Occupational Therapy students when they graduate they lean towards physical settings like hospitals where they wear a uniform and help with issuing equipment and treating people in the acute sense of the word or they might lean more towards the mental health side of Occupational Therapy – talking and working with people for a long period of time.

“With palliative care you get to use your broad range of clinical and personal skills – it is unlike so many other healthcare settings. It is very unique and requires lots of specialist learning.”

Dean hopes by sharing his story he can let people know that palliative care is not just about death and dying but about living as full a life as possible and optimising quality of life.

“Palliative care is very much focused on treating the whole person holistically taking into account their personal wishes, strengths, history, personal circumstances and that of their loved ones.

“There are just so many ways a hospice can help people – whether as an outpatient, an inpatient or in someone’s home. People should not be frightened of being referred to a hospice or to receive palliative care.

“We work in a very enabling way – no matter what stage someone is at – and our patient’s voice and views are put at the top throughout. You are not a recipient of care here. You are in control.”

“I can understand people’s fear when being referred to palliative care and I would be the same, but I want people to know receiving palliative care is all about having a team of specialists help you live your life as fully as you can. Working with you we try and optimise the life and meaning in all your days.”

Sue Ryder is currently recruiting a number of roles in palliative care across a number of its hospices and hubs. For more information visit www.sueryder.org/pallativecareers

For more information on Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice visit www.sueryder.org/leckhampton


Pictured: Dean Powell has joined Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice as Occupational Therapist

About Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice:

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice is the only palliative care inpatient unit in Gloucestershire and provides expert palliative care and support for people who are living with a life-limiting condition, as well as supporting their families.

Our 16-bed hospice is surrounded by beautiful, tranquil countryside which complements the specialist care and support we give to those with life-limiting conditions and their families.

In addition to our inpatient unit, our virtual day hospice service helps people living with long term conditions and our Hospice at Home service provides care for people in the local community who prefer to receive palliative care at home.

Our expert team includes doctors, nurses, care assistants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and family support team. They all work seamlessly together to support people through the most difficult times of their lives.

Whether somebody is dealing with a terminal illness or the loss of a loved one, we’re there when it matters. Sue Ryder staff and volunteers provide people with the compassion and expert care they need, to help them live the best life they can.


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