Sister Ann Birch shares her memories of 25 years at John Taylor Hospice.

As a teen, Ann followed in her footsteps and volunteered at the hospice which later encouraged her to apply for her first position as an auxiliary nurse in 1985 – putting into practice her love of one-to-one patient care.

“I would be totally focused with the patients,” she says of her time as an auxiliary, “doing their personal care, helping dish out meals and feeding patients, skincare, putting them to bed at night.”

Despite progressing up the ranks to her managerial role as sister, Ann still feels that she is able to put in time with the patients.

“Having worked in a hospital where it’s so busy you don’t get the same amount of time to spend with patients, the staffing levels at the hospice allow you to have that contact with patients and give them what they need,” she says.

Ann says this has changed for the better over the years with more staff providing that care both at the hospice and also in the community. She remembers a time when the hospice’s current upstairs offices were a second In-Patient Unit with only one trained member of staff per ward.

“There were just a lot more patients staying a lot longer in those days,” she says, adding that patient experience has improved with the introduction of better facilities over the years, particularly pressure relieving beds, syringe drivers and medication changes. Ann feels that care has progressed in her time as a nurse. “Now patients don’t stay for years because they don’t need to, which is all thanks to the really good care we can now provide in the community!”

A big change in the hospice’s facilities during Ann’s time at John Taylor has been the development of the Living Well Centre which offers day services. “It began in the ‘education room’,” she recalls. “There used to be just one sister and an occupational therapist assistant and they used to run it together. I remember it starting off and now it’s got its own centre.”

Over the years, Ann has seen the Living Well Centre grow to become the social hub that it is today, offering therapeutic and emotional support for patients, their families and members of the community.

Ann says her time with John Taylor Hospice has been filled with special moments – particularly of events which have brought staff and patients together. “They always used to have strawberry teas and fetes in the garden area, so all the patients and their relatives could get involved,” she says. “We used to wheel out the patients and they’d buy things off the stalls or buy cakes and things and have a lovely time.”

She adds that it’s also her colleagues who have made working at John Taylor Hospice so special. “It’s always attracted really nice people, it’s that family feel, it’s nice to feel proud of where you work!”

Hope and Healing Appeal