Julie Bateman is a nurse at Saint Francis Hospice, in its Hospice at Home team. She shares her reflections after 25 years of working with the charity.

I have been a nurse for 40 years now and I still feel it is a privilege to work at Saint Francis Hospice.

I first joined the hospice in 1996 as a bank nurse on the ward. I continued my training over the years and went on to become a senior nurse and a team leader.

I also used to work in our day services and assess patients as they came in.

If a patient was upset, I would sit with them. I would often take them around to the ward to meet the staff and it really helped if patients later needed to come to the ward as they would see some familiar faces.

I left the hospice in 2013 as I felt I needed a change. I was only gone for 15 months when I applied for a position as a Hospice at Home nurse. As soon as I walked in the door again, I felt I was coming home – that was over six years ago.

I’m part of such a lovely supportive team and we have been out in the community on the frontline since day one of the pandemic.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Saint Francis Hospice is making a visible move towards inclusivitySaint Francis Hospice is making a visible move towards inclusivity (Image: Archant)

We are lone workers and we look after anyone from the age of 18 upwards in the community.

I feel quite special. People open their door to me and I go into their home and they allow me to be there. I have to ingratiate myself into each family so quickly.

I have some very difficult conversations with families about dying, about where their loved one wants to be and my team and I make sure everything is in place. It is a scary time for people and part of our role is trying to prepare them for what they know will happen.

While the patient is our priority, we are also there to support the family and we help in any way we can.

I’ve hung out washing and blow-dried hair - you go that extra mile because little things can be so important.

I’m very much the kind of person who dips into everything. I do teaching sessions where I speak with GP students who come in to find out more about palliative care.

It’s lovely to explain what we have to offer and to be able to answer their questions.

And I also volunteer on our confidential helpline OrangeLine and its outreach groups, which are in place to listen and support people who are lonely, isolated or bereaved and signposts them to services which may help.