This year marks 35 years since Community Nurse Specialist (CNS), Angie Moller, joined the Hospice. Angie reflects on the many changes she's seen during her working life.
"I started work at the Hospice Inpatient Unit (IPU) in Knowle in 1987 having qualified as a nurse three or four years previously. I didn't really understand what the Hospice was about when I joined but I'm still here 35 years later so there's something about the work that I've enjoyed.
"The IPU in Knowle had 14 inpatient beds and the Hospice was much smaller than it is now so you knew everybody working there. We were able to offer respite care then because the demands weren't so great on our beds.
"When I started there were no computers, mobile phones or sat navs. You had to have a good relationship with an A to Z, all our notes were paper, and we've had to learn how to adapt our documentation and computer systems. Now we use mobile phones but back then we had pagers and had to find a telephone to ring in for updates.
"The job of caring for people is still the same but our skills are better honed these days. The caseload was quite different 35 years ago as we only took cancer patients then and symptom management was much more basic compared to how it is now. Treatments have improved so people live longer with cancer, Motor Neurone Disease and heart disease, but the symptoms are more complex as a result. There are many more medications available now, such as bespoke pain relief and anti-sickness drugs, and we are more aware of the side effects of the disease burden these days, so we monitor patients for hypercalcaemia, kidney and liver function, which back then wasn't thought of.
"The syringe driver pumps that we use a lot now were fairly new then. We were supporting District Nurses in managing them in the community, whereas now it's a basic part of the arsenal of treating patients.
Angie qualified as a nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital in 1984
"I still remember patients and their families from years ago and the staff that I worked with. I worked on the IPU for seven years before I was promoted out into the community. At the time we had six CNS nurses, and we have 23 now. One of the reasons for the expansion is that the Hospice is better known, and people aren't so afraid of it now. It used to be the view that people only went to the Hospice to die but the majority of the work here is about symptom control and getting people well enough to enjoy a good quality of life.
"Since Covid much of the CNS work takes place on video or phone in the office. We try to do the initial assessment face to face and look at each patient's whole environment so that we understand their living conditions, what support they have, any financial or care support they require, and whether the family can cope because if there's just one carer supporting the ill person they can get run down and need help themselves.
"The team camaraderie is great – and without a good team around you, it's a tough job. I've had great experiences meeting patients and their incredible families who are dealing with these awful situations and the care you get back from them is astounding. The job is difficult because it's so emotionally intensive at times but it's something that I've found great reward in doing."
If you're interested in nursing opportunities at St Peter's Hospice, we'd love to hear from you.Back to News