Neuro clinical nurse specialist Louise Stone (pictured far left) joined John Taylor Hospice because she wanted to make a real difference for the patients she was supporting.

“I was a district nurse on the evening service before I came to John Taylor Hospice,” she says. “When I used to visit patients I became very aware of the inequality in treatments and care of the different conditions. I felt patients who had long term conditions did not always have the access to services that some other conditions had.

“When a job came up at John Taylor Hospice for a neuro support nurse I just went for it. I thought ‘if I can make a difference, I’ll go and give it a try,’ – that was nearly 17 years ago!”

Initially the majority of the people Louise was supporting had multiple sclerosis but over the years that has changed and she now cares for more people with motor neurone disease (MND). And these days her role is not just about care – it’s also about providing advice and signposting to other help available.

“As well as supporting patients and their carers I now advise about symptom control and advanced care planning,” she says. “During my time at the hospice, treatments have changed and so many patients are living longer and can have more complex symptoms. That means we can be caring for patients for longer.”

There is also an increasing focus on keeping people at home if that is their wish.

“I will visit patients in their home on a regular basis,” says Louise. “How often I visit patients depends on how poorly they are. It can be every week, every fortnight, once a month, once every six weeks – it just depends what stage of their illness they are at.

“It is a very rewarding job. I’ve met some absolutely fantastic people who are a real inspiration, it’s been an absolute pleasure to serve them and care for them. But it does take its toll. Even though you try not to have an emotional attachment, when you’ve known someone for four, five, six years, you get to know them and their families.”

Over the years, Louise has seen first-hand the impact the hospice’s care can have for a patient.

“I believe the service we offer here is second to none and at times we’ve been like the cavalry. I go out to see a patient, assess their needs and, because we now have a multi-disciplinary team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and a family support worker, their needs are met in a timely manner. This can make a big difference to a patient’s quality of life. When I first started this role I was dependent on social services and other agencies and this often took time to put into place.

“There’s so much we’ve got to offer here now – and things that can make such a difference. Trust plays a big part in my role. You’ve got to have that trust and that relationship, I’m a real firm believer in that if you say you’re going to do something, you make sure you do it.”

Louise has seen John Taylor adapt to change over the years.

“The hospice has evolved as it’s had to move with the times,” says Louise. “I can’t believe how much it is has changed. When I started we were part of the NHS so we didn’t have a fundraising team or a media team. The management structure was tiny, we just had matron, the community team manager and very little else. The community team was probably a quarter of the size it is now.

“Now we’re a charity, we cover a much bigger area and there are lots of different roles within the hospice. It’s changed beyond recognition. Sixteen years might not seem like a huge amount of time but actually, in the life of the hospice, it is. It’s been a massive change – but all for the good.

Working at John Taylor Hospice is something of a family affair for Louise. Her mother, Pat Seickell was a night sister and community liaison sister at the hospice during the 1970s and 80s. Louise’s sister, Pippa Olliver, is a clinical nurse specialist team leader and daughter Becky Stone is a palliative care assistant at the hospice.

(Left to right): Louise Stone, Becky Stone, Pat Seickell and Pip Olliver.
Sign up for our Doggy Dash