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Laura Cope, Sister, Nightingale Macmillan Day Unit

What is your role?

I work as a Sister in the Nightingale Macmillan Unit (NMU) and so I help provide palliative care, which is caring for patients with really advanced illnesses. It doesn’t always just mean caring for people at the end of their lives but this is an element of the care.

The main part of the care I provide is personal care. That could be giving medication or pain relief for patients and changing dressings. A big skill is communication because, given the nature of the patients we see, they and their loved ones are dealing with some very big emotions. Many patients and relatives feel they want to share this so we make time to sit and talk and listen.

There are other aspects, too, like after death care, known as last offices, which is very important, sensitive work.

 Why did you want to do this job?

I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and I first started working in a nursing home at 16. I’ve been qualified for 10 years and I’ve worked in a few areas, like the liver ward. I’ve worked with people without choices, people fighting for life, people with drink problems and addictions, and here - in the Nightingale Macmillan Unit - people with cancers.

This unit is what I live and breathe for. They make it possible for you to go the extra mile. A lot of people who work here have known someone close to them who has gone through cancer, friends or relatives. So in dealing with that, they learn how to help patients and their families. But also each other; we talk to each other a lot and help each other through emotional aspects to the job. There are a lot of teaching sessions given by doctors too and everyone needs everyone else. Consultants will take your hand when you need them to and help you but they know they couldn’t do their jobs without you.

If I have managed to make someone who is dying smile then I’ve done my job well. Because imagine that – before I’ve left the door for the day I’ve put a smile on the face of someone facing death. That’s my aim, always.

What do you like about working at UHDB Trust particularly?

I think it’s clear that we are a forward-thinking hospital, that we are finding creative ways to make the best of a challenging situation. By that I mean the funding difficulties, which all hospitals have. But at Derby we are coming up with new ways all the time to try and offer the best quality we can despite whatever’s happening to the budget.