“Women make great contributions to the health of their community”

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.

Beverley Barclay, Clinical Lead for ellenor’s Children’s Hospice at Home Service, has devoted much of her life to looking after families facing terminal illness and helping to ensure they receive the best specialised care.

In 2016 she received an MBE for her outstanding contribution to nursing in a career spanning over 29 years within the hospice sector, and for her passion and commitment to helping children and young adults with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. In 1994 she helped establish ellenor’s Children’s Hospice at Home service – the first paediatric care service of its kind in the UK and in 2005, she pioneered the first ever transition service for young adults.

We caught up with Beverley to talk about her work and what International Women’s Day means to her.

 Tell us about your career?

I joined ellenor in 1992 as an Inpatient Ward Team Leader working within the hospice to provide specialist palliative nursing care to patients in North West Kent and later Bexley.

Two years later ellenor became the UK’s first children’s full hospice at home service, delivering chemotherapy, oncology and end of life care to seriously ill babies, children and young adults in the home. We are still the only hospice in Kent that provides nursing care in the home.

ellenor’s children’s service grew from one nurse working closely alongside the Specialist Adult Palliative Care team to what it is today – a dedicated team of nurses, doctors and respite carers with a large Children’s and Wellbeing Service. We started to liaise and work with Great Ormond street, Royal Marsden, and University College London – all the hospitals we knew who were caring for these children who wanted to be in their own homes but didn’t have the infrastructure for them.

Eight years later ellenor set up a transitional care and young adult service ensuring that young people and their families are prepared and feel ready to make the move to adult health care.

International Women’s Day is a worldwide event encompassing a rich diversity of initiatives celebrating women’s achievements, opportunities and potential. What does this day mean to you?

 It’s important for women to be empowered to ensure equal opportunities for training, work promotion and equal wages. In palliative care, women have made great contributions to the health of their community for many years. I feel very proud to work here as compassion is embedded in the care of ellenor and every person you meet – nurses, doctors, volunteers etc – cares and believes in what they do.

Who has been your biggest influencer to get you to where you are in your career?

On my first day on my first ward, a nurse came up to me and said ‘Please remember to treat everybody with the same dignity, respect, care and compassion as you would your own family because that could be your family member lying in that bed one day”. I have never forgotten those words and work hard to ensure that every patient receives the respectful clinical, personal, emotional, and spiritual care that they need.

If you could make one change in the charity/health sector what would it be?

I have never really considered my work at ellenor as gender-related. Hospice care is very balanced and we are privileged to work in an environment that values the contribution of women. However we can go on creating a workplace that allows everyone to be important to the hospice ensuring we keep the infrastructure right for women in the future.

What message would you like to leave for men and women on International Women’s Day?

Palliative care is doing a ‘good’ job of empowering women, however sometimes in medical and nursing professions palliative care is seen as less glamourous than other disciplines. On International Women’s Day, we need to value palliative care medically, socially and financially. Palliative care invests in empowering women; we need to invest in palliative care.

For more information visit ellenor’s Children’s Hospice Care