Andy has been a Jessie May nurse for 5 years and cares for children across the South Bristol area. Andy was working with children already as a nursery nurse when he decided to go into a career in nursing. After he qualified, his first job was on the PICU (the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit).
“Some children on the PICU ward could be there for months, so I had the chance to get to know them and their families really well. There was one child I spent a lot of time with – we had such a battle getting him healthy enough to go home. That sort of piqued my interest in palliative community nursing.
“One of my colleagues from PICU had moved to Jessie May, so I knew a bit about the charity already. It’s a totally different environment to the ward. Now I get to build relationships with children and families and spend a lot more time with them. Jessie May also has so many activities for families to be involved in – we try and bring them together, so they can meet other families who are in similar situations.
“People hear the words “palliative care” and think it’s all doom and gloom. That’s not what the reality is like, though. Most of my job is awesome, having fun with great kids. The rest can be quite challenging at times – but who’s job isn’t?
“A lot of my time is spent doing respite visits, which offer a much-needed break for parents. These 3-hour blocks may not sound like much, but they offer a lifeline to families. Parents can use these 3 hours to do whatever they like, whether it be going to do the weekly shop, or have a date-night!
“They can spend quality time with their other children too, with the knowledge I am trusted and fully trained to care for their life-limited child.”
“Part of my job is to make sure that a family is prepared for when their child is at the end of their life. With the children we care for it’s important that when it does happen the family’s wishes are carried out. It’s something that the family are never going to forget, so if we can help in making that experience as smooth as possible then we can maybe go some way to helping them grieve and heal. Because we’ve been there supporting families for sometimes years before their child passes away, we’re in the right place to support them through that end of life period too, and after.
“I think what’s special about Jessie May is the continuity of care.”
“Jessie May is the only provider of home respite services like this locally, which makes us quite unique across palliative care services. I feel incredibly fortunate to be welcomed into families’ homes, and often feel like a real extension of the family.
“Jessie May is an incredible charity and I honestly feel I am in a privileged and humbling position as a Jessie May nurse.”