Grantham's inspirational women: Cathie Alcock runs 'Hospice in the Hospital'
When it comes to inspirational women in Grantham, Cathie Alcock is up there with the very best of them.
The mum of one has managed the ‘Hospice in the Hospital’ since it opened in 2014 as the first venture of its kind in the UK.
Hundreds of patients and their families have since benefited from having the state-of-the-art facilities and specialised end-of-life care on their doorstep.
But it is the staff that make it so special especially hospice ward sister Cathie Alock.
We visited the Hospice this week to speak to Cathie.
How did it begin for you Cathie?
I have had quite a varied career. I trained in Leeds and qualified as a registered nurse in 1996. I spent a year in general medicine before spending five years in infectious diseases. I then spent three years in Germany for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SAFA)
Upon returning home, I took up a Macmillan post for two years and then transferred to St Barnabas Hospice, running the hospice from home service for seven years before I moved to the Hospice in the Hospital just before it opened in 2014.
What drew you to work at the Hospice?
I wanted to make a difference primarily to palliative and end of life care patients. The people that are here, whether it is the patient or their families are going through a life changing event. We only have one chance to get it right. It really grounds you.
What do you particularly enjoy?
I really enjoy coming to see the patients and staff. I have a very good team of 13. We have a lot of banter but there is a mutual respect between us all. We are extremely supportive towards one another.
I am also constantly learning as no two patients needs are the same.
Can it sometimes feel overwhelming?
You have to have a bit of a strange sense of humour sometimes and a lot of chocolate! It can be difficult especially with the younger patients but we receive such positive feedback. It is something that really tugs at my heart strings.
It must be challenging at times ...
Like with any job, the politics of the place can be difficult. I find the patient care to be the easy bit and I am lucky to have a good balance between managing the unit and providing direct patient care the two.
Can you tell us more?
It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We take referrals from hospital or they can be community referred.
What keeps you going?
The patients and their families. It is an honour to be allowed to be part of a really private time. We build firm relationships with many of the patients and their families especially those that are with us for some time.
Are there any challenges that you face?
People don’t know that we are here which can be a good and a bad thing.
It’s good because it hopefully means that it’s because they haven’t needed us but we also want them to be aware that we are here should they need to.
I think people also have this vision of a hospice as being a bleak dark and depressing place which could not be further from the truth.
Is there anything else that you would like the readers to know?
We’ve hosted weddings at the hospice. We’ve even welcomed a miniature horse to meet the patients. Children and animals are always welcome. One of our patient’s last wishes was to have a ride in a Rolls-Royce so we organised for him to spend the day being chauffeured about in one.
It’s all about adding quality to life and not just quantity.
We like to push boundaries and bend the rules but always in the patients’ best interests.