Interview with Sarah Goode, Inpatient Unit Sister at Coventry Myton Hospice

Sarah Goode takes some time out of her very busy schedule to run us through her role as Sister of the Inpatient Unit at Coventry Myton Hospice…

What does your role entail?
I am the ward Sister for the Inpatient Unit at Coventry Myton Hospice. Half of my time is spent in the office, completing administration and managerial duties. My responsibilities include staffing and budget management, supporting and advising staff, staff professional development and ensuring the nurses are all confident and competent in their role. The other part of my role is being on the clinical floor- leading the team, being involved in direct patient care, working with all the nursing staff, medical team, setting standards. When I am clinical, my focus is to lead the team, guiding and supporting them but what I love is providing patient care, supporting both the patient and family through their journey.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I absolutely love my job, I can’t tell you how passionate I am. I want to get it right for our patients and their families. It’s a real privilege and an honour to be part of someone’s life, especially the end of their life. What I enjoy about my role clinically is to be able to provide what I would want for my mum, my family and what I would want for myself- fulfilling our patients’ wishes and supporting their family through their loved ones’ illness and providing the best care. I enjoy supporting the staff and receiving feedback from patients and their loved ones. I am very proud of my team.

What has been your most memorable moment at Myton so far?
We once had a patient who we admitted 2 or 3 times during her illness. She was only in her early thirties and she had a young two year old boy who was born when she was diagnosed so two years of his life she had been very ill. She was an absolute fighter and remained positive throughout her illness. On her last but one admission here she became quite stable and because we are not able to provide long term care she was moved on to a nursing home. She was in the nursing home for a week when the Macmillan nurse called the consultant here to say they were struggling to manage her illness and could she go and see her. I decided to go with the consultant because I wanted the decision to be the right decision for both the patient, her family and for us all. After assessing her it was evident that she would benefit from being admitted back to Coventry Myton but unfortunately we had to wait a week until a bed became available. The nursing home was struggling to meet her needs through no fault of their own, but she was quite complex with her symptoms and had become very unwell. She wanted to be here and her family wanted her to be here too. She was a very inspiring lady and she is one I will never forget. I am so glad we were able to re-admit her and it was so the right decision for all involved.

What do you find most challenging about your job? How do you deal with these challenges?
I think the most challenging part is when we have people on the waiting list. Obviously we have an allocation list and people are referred in because they are poorly but we may not be able to accommodate them immediately. It might be that their wishes are not to die at hospital, they might be struggling at home but the difficulty is we may not have a bed available at that time. This is challenging as I am constantly thinking how can I accommodate them but if we don’t have a bed or the physical space we can’t do it, and that can often be tough to accept.

People are often scared of coming to a hospice. What advice would you give to these people?
There is a huge stigma attached to the word hospice. We’ve all grown up with this word hospice and that’s where everyone presumes you go to die. So if anybody has any fears, I would suggest they come and have a look. Come and meet the team and have a look around. People need to come in and then as soon as they’ve looked around the building they usually say they are shocked to find out that we often send people home- people come and go. It’s about improving quality of life and managing our patients’ symptoms. If someone is considering a hospice or has had it mentioned to them, they should come and have a look around.

How do you think palliative care at Myton differs from that of other healthcare providers?
Because we are specialist healthcare providers, I like to think we have more time. We are excellent at what we do which is providing palliative and end of life care. We are able to give specialist advice, care and knowledge. We are very respectful here at Myton- privacy and dignity is a huge priority for us. Taking into consideration patient’s wishes and doing advanced care planning is also very important. We are very honest about treatment options and how we can best support symptoms. We work very closely with all of the team and take a multi disciplinary approach to patient care. We are very respectful of all staff, patients and families and I think everyone really respects and values this. We very much provide individualised patient care that cannot always be delivered in other healthcare settings.

If you had to describe Myton in 3 words, what would they be?
Dedicated (in providing the best possible care for all patients requiring palliative or end of life care), positive and a forward thinking organisation

What are the common misconceptions about hospices and hospice care do you think?
The main misconception is that people come here to die. People come in thinking that they are coming in to die whereas that might not be the case.

Can you tell us more about the services you provide at Myton?
We can access every possible service you could wish for including pastoral care, counselling, complementary therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. What other organisation can provide such a range of services?

If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?
Passionate, committed, loyal

If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would you pick and why?
My Aunt died at a young age, she was only 43. If I could see her again that would be amazing. She inspired me to be a nurse- she used to be a Sister at Leicester Royal Infirmary in A and E and then went into district nursing. If I could see anyone again I would love to see her. She was a huge inspiration to me and I admired her so much.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I would like to go and see the penguins. Going to see them is on my wish list. I love wildlife and animals.

If you could witness any event of the past, present or future, what would it be?
If I could witness any event, I would like to have been there for D-Day because it would have been amazing to have been a part of that. If you said to me I could go back and have a week during any era, I would pick a week in the 1940’s just to witness how difficult and challenging life was then.

What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?
I would love to learn to play the violin. I used to play a trombone at school so I can read music but I would love to be able to play the violin.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’ve got two Labradors so they take up quite a lot of my time. I also love going to festivals- I’m really into VW campervans. I love reading and music is also a massive passion of mine. I love spending time with my family and friends and I spend as much time as I can with them. I love looking around antique shops, fairs and shows.