Meet some of the Joseph Weld Hospice team
One of our Doctors and some of our Nurses describe their work at Joseph Weld Hospice, Weldmar's inpatient unit in Dorchester
Dr Paul Barker
“Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing”
Dr Paul Barker says this sums up the nature of medicine generally, even in 2017.
However, that is not so at Weldmar, where staff take their time getting to know their patients and finding out what they need to keep them well for longer.
Associate specialist Dr Paul, who works on the inpatient unit for four days a week and writes books on his free day, said: “I think it’s important not to reduce patients down to chemistry. It’s about being with people towards the end of their life, and sharing their story, and showing them love”.
Dr Paul served 20 years as a GP and studied palliative care before launching his own palliative care team. He came to Weldmar four years ago, though his colleagues say it feels like he’s been there forever.
He added: “Most people want to die at home, but most die in hospital instead. The hospice movement hopes to help prevent that. We look after eight or nine hundred people out in the community every year. Some of the more complex cases come in to the hospice – it’s like an intensive care unit. With other types of healthcare once someone gets a palliative diagnosis it’s as if someone puts the needle on a record and it plays out in the same way for everyone. But in the hospice it’s different. We get a real chance to get to know people and their families and respond to them as people. That’s what we all love about it.”
Auxilliary nurse Eva Armstrong, who has worked for Weldmar for seven years, said: “We look at people as a whole and support their families – it’s an integral part of the care that we give. It’s a great team and I think everybody works towards the common goal of patient-centred care.
“I used to work in a hospital and I never had time to sit with the patients. Here you spend time getting to know people and build up a bond, and trust.
“The best thing about working here is working with such a brilliant team and meeting different people. Every shift is different.
“Hand on my heart, none of us could do what we do if it weren’t for having such a great team. It’s a privilege to work here.”
Sister Debs Scott-Denness has been working for Weldmar for nearly a decade, after leaving Dorset County Hospital’s elderly care ward.
“It was a challenging role,” she said. “We are very lucky to have so much more time here. I’ve just been with a relative for probably an hour and it was so nice to be able to do that, rather than thinking about all the other things you have to do instead. My colleagues are the best thing about working here – if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to my job the way I do. We’re almost a family, and this way we can give our patients the best care.
“We get a certain amount of wisdom from caring for people at the end of their lives. They let you in, they talk about their emotions, their dogs, their children. We find out about the real person behind the face.
“There’s always a patient who sticks out in your memory. I remember when I first started I cared for a woman with Motor Neurone Disease and she didn’t like what the doctors were saying to her, and she typed a very direct message to them that left them under no illusion she didn’t want to hear it! She was just so human.”
Senior staff nurse Di Sketchley has been with Weldmar for four and a half years after joining us as a student.
She said: “We do look after quite a lot of patients, but we have time for them – that’s fundamental here. And we have a great team. It’s a privilege to look after someone at the end of their life. Sometimes it can be quite hard but we support each other.
“We’re extremely lucky to have this in the area. It’s one of those place where people come in very apprehensive, they think it’s going to be sad but it’s one of the brightest places. We have a laugh and a giggle with patients and families. It gives people a break, and to know they are being looked after.”