Director of Service Delivery and Development
Being at Forget Me Not is like returning to my roots! Although I grew up down south, my mum’s family is from Yorkshire, so it’s in my genes. Not only that, but I think my approach to supporting families is rooted in my lovely dad showing me the importance of having a sense of control over end of life care. Forget Me Not absolutely understands that too!
A southerner who came north!
I trained as a children’s nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital before working as a community children’s nurse in London. Then I moved north to set up a community children’s palliative care team in Manchester. I’ve also gained valuable experience in bereavement support at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, supporting families whose child has died suddenly and unexpectedly.
I now live in Glossop with my husband and my 16 year old, sports-mad, son!
My dad showed me the value of choice
My dad had a life-limiting heart condition and would often take me to hospital appointments with him (I was a very inquisitive child!). I’ll never forget one appointment where we’d been told about a high risk procedure Dad could have. On the way home, Dad said, ‘I don’t think that’s for me – or for us.’ It gave me a powerful sense that Dad – and the family as a whole - had a choice, it wasn’t just down to the doctors. Looking back, I think that really helped us as a family. And it shaped my perspective on the part we, as palliative care practitioners, play in helping families make the choices that work for them.
Our role is to offer families hope
For many of our families, it can seem like all hope is lost. They may have been on the receiving end of lots of bad news from doctors and consultants. We can’t change the diagnosis, but we can help families find hope in the choices they are able to make. We can help them choose, for instance, where their child is cared for.
By giving people a sense of control over what can seem entirely out of their hands, you give them the chance to re-establish a little of what it means to be parents able to make choices for their children. And that has a really positive impact on how families move forward in the future.
Supporting families whatever their future holds
I didn’t realise before coming here quite how unique Forget Me Not is. Other children’s hospices tend to be led by clinicians. Here, it’s nurse-led. That opens up all sorts of opportunities to find new ways to support families. A brilliant example is how Forget Me Not cares for families during pregnancy, providing hugely beneficial support right from the start, as families try and come to terms with a very different future from the one they had imagined.
I’m really impressed by how committed and passionate the Forget Me Not team are too, how focused they are on the needs of each family, helping them plan for whatever their future holds.
Forget Me Not is definitely leading the way in children’s hospice care and I’m thrilled to be part of that!