Natasha is one of our 3 Palliative Care Assistants (PCAs) here at Trinity, a unique role to the hospice that Natasha was instrumental in shaping. After seeing the care a family member received at Trinity and wanting to give back, Natasha left her role in finance to start a brand new career. 

Hear from Natasha about her role at Trinity and what a PCA actually does.

"The best decision I could have made"

I feel very fortunate in my role because I get to do so much. When I first began at Trinity, I was working on a pilot scheme designed to test a new model of care in the community, which is how my role developed. Not many places have this role which is all about supporting the Community Nurses and other registered professionals in our team. I am here to assess patients and report back. Consider me the eyes and ears in our patients’ homes!

People may be more familiar with the work of a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) whose work covers taking bloods or conducting ECGs in a GP surgery, or working on a ward, giving personal care and carrying out observations. However, I realised during the pilot phase of my role how different a Palliative Care Assistant is to an HCA.

What do you do in your role?

I support the Community Nurses with follow-up home visits and telephone calls and help conduct and assess a patient’s current symptoms and psychological needs. I also arrange follow-ups and discuss with the Community Nurses actions needed to support a patient. I get to work in different areas of London that are within the seven boroughs of our catchment area which makes for good variety too! Working with the welfare and benefits team is also interesting to me.

I enjoy the Therapies side of my role which sees me supporting the team with training for carers, giving patients guidance and arranging assessment visits and ordering equipment. I visit patients in their homes to check the equipment works for them and it’s being used safely. Other aspects I oversee are liaising with social services, referrals, and hospice at home for some patients.

We recently had a patient who we needed to arrange a toilet frame for and because I had been there a few days earlier, it meant I could save an Occupational Therapist a trip to assess whether the equipment would fit and tell them exactly what I thought was needed. The training I have had means I can manage these areas of patient care.

Natasha ready to head out and about into one of our seven catchment areas

Making a real impact for the whole team

Without the PCAs, the rest of the team would be under more pressure and would need to do more visits. In the case of the gentleman who needed the toilet frame, this was a 15 minute visit plus travel time. so with my involvement, we were able to save other colleagues time who are more in demand as the number of patients rise. My work helps create better and faster outcomes for patients and frees up colleagues for other needs.

Recently, I was out visiting a patient with a Doctor who was new to Trinity. On the drive there I explained what a Palliative Care Assistant does and he was surprised by how much I could help and how much time I would save him. It is good to know I can take a bit of work off people so they can get on with what they are specialised in.

Four years on and still enjoying it

This role is a constant learning process and working with the Community Nurses is something I really enjoy. Knowing they trust me and are confident in my work is a real motivator and it feels good when they ask me my opinion. The respect is mutual, because I have learnt so much from sharing an office with the Community Nurses, such as from listening to how they speak to bereaved families on the phone.

Shared experiences altogether

When you come to work here, you find out that there is a lot of laughter in this place. It’s about living, not dying. It can be sad at times, and some patients and families that you meet affect you more than others. You have such a great support network here that there is always someone to talk to.

I was sent a card recently which was amazing. A patient living nearby wanted a temporary use of a wheelchair so she could go out in Battersea Park, with her family who were visiting from overseas. They didn’t know if or when they would be able to visit her again.

It was an amazing feeling knowing they made it to Battersea Park for their walk, going two days in a row. At Trinity, we talk about helping patients to make the best of every moment and this story is really what that means in action. Her grandson dropped the wheelchair back a few days later with a lovely thank you card. We don’t do our jobs for the thank you, but when they come it means a lot to have your work recognised.

Thank you to Natasha for sharing her account, one of Trinity’s 250 skilled employees.

Interested in working with patients and their families at a really important time in their lives? 

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