Rachel Dennett is a healthcare assistant (HCA) in the hugely successful Hospice at Home team at Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust.
Since the service began back in 2016, it has supported over 1,000 local people to die in the comfortable and safe surroundings of their own home, if that is their wish.
Before becoming a HCA, Rachel was a community volunteer at the hospice, supporting patients and their loved ones across the High Peak with tasks including shopping, running errands, gardening, dog walking, and respite.
Rachel, who lives in Glossop, explained: ‘I saw an advert for Hospice at Home HCAs and had been fancying it for a while. I am a self-employed bookkeeper by trade, but I absolutely loved my volunteering role at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust, and I got a real buzz out of it. I spoke to Julie [the volunteer manager at the hospice] about the HCA position, and she encouraged me to go for it.
‘My father died in 2018, and in his last few days, the Shakespeare Hospice at Home team in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon cared for him. I saw what a massive difference the HCAs made to both him and the rest of the family. Their support made an awful situation more bearable.
‘I always wanted to do a job where I could get out of bed and say: “I want to go to work today.” I now say that I have been waiting 35 years to do this job. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to go into someone’s home when they are nearing the end of their lives, and to be able to support them in whatever way they wish. It may be helping a patient to have a wash or take a shower, giving them food or refreshments, attending to personal care including helping them to go to the toilet, being there so that a family member or loved one can have a rest or take a shower, or simply just holding hands and talking.
‘You’re often seen as a safe person to talk to. Patients confide in you about their worries and fears, and their wishes for the end of their life and beyond. They sometimes say things to you that they might be too worried to talk to their family about. There are sometimes tears, but often a lot of laughter.
‘My days as a HCA vary massively – I will usually undertake three or four visits per day – travelling around the High Peak and Hope Valley. Every day is different. You tell the coordinating team the days and times that you are able to work, and they arrange care to suit patients’ needs, and flexibility for all staff. You don’t need to have any qualifications for this role either – it is definitely more about the person that you are.
‘The support from our managers and the coordinating team – who are highly skilled nurses and experienced healthcare staff – is amazing too. If you are at a patient’s home and you’re unsure of anything, you know someone is just a phone call away, no matter what the time of day.’
The demand for our Hospice at Home service is huge, and it is our privilege to provide the highest standard of care to patients who wish to remain at home at the end of their life. We are growing our Hospice at Home team to provide more day and night care across the Derbyshire Dales, Chesterfield areas and High Peak.
Benefits of working for us:
- Competitive pay
- Day and night time work available
- Flexible hours/ working arrangements
- Regular training sessions
- Team led by nurses
- Generous mileage allowance
- Paid travel between patients
- Holiday and sick pay
If you have palliative care experience and are committed to giving patients the choice to be nursed in their own home, visit our careers page for more information.