Dinah’s Diary – Consultant Nurse blog

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I’m Dinah Hickish and have been appointed as the first Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care in Wales and I’ve been in post since the 1st of January. This is very exciting. I have been working at the hospice since 2005, when I came as a very junior staff nurse. Back tracking a little. I had way back in the day 1979 embarked on an SRN nursing course at Westminster Hospital in London. Whilst there I went to a lecture by a lady talking about looking after the dying. It was something called palliative care. She advocated using morphine regularly, she said that people wouldn’t get addicted, and the audience who were made up of professors of medicine all were a little sceptical. The lady’s name was Dame Cicely Saunders who was the founder of the modern hospice movement. I found her inspirational, and I thought that is what I want to do. However life takes many turns and I didn’t quite complete my SRN course as I became pregnant! I then went on to have in quick succession 3 other children and moved up to North Wales as my husband got a job at the Denbigh Mental Hospital. With this connection with mental health I developed a career as a researcher working in the department of psychological medicine with Professor David Healy. The next 12 years working with David exposed me to all manner of research projects, I learnt so much. Following divorce, I then decided that I would re-join the path of palliative care. Which meant I had to completely retrain as a nurse. So I embarked on the Bangor Nursing degree, which I completed in 2005. Which is when St Kentigerns very kindly decided that they would give me a job.

In 2007 I began the MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice, and became and Advanced Nurse practitioner for the hospice. This meant that when the hospice hit crisis in 2010, they could decide to be a nurse led unit. This was very scary and had not been done anywhere before. However it worked so well that a year later we were fully operational and had a very healthy buffer in the bank.

The hospice has continued to thrive, and the nurse led model is a complete success. Not only are we providing an excellent palliative care service but we are centre of innovation and inspiration for nursing.

My new role is still making certain that the best possible care is received by our patients, and it also is about developing a centre of research. I am supported in research by Bangor University in particular Dr Debbie Roberts, Foundation of Nursing Studies, Professor of Practice Learning, School of Healthcare Sciences. Debbie and myself are working on a number of exciting projects, one of which will be to develop a branch of advanced practice in palliative care. I’m very interested in advanced clinical roles and how to develop them in palliative care. We are also looking at hand held clinical records with Liam Kurmos of Astral Dynamic Cyf.

At this moment in time, I’m working on a presentation for the hospicesuk conference, and a presentation for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight.

On June the 30th we are being honoured by a visit from Jean White the Chief Nursing Officer of Wales. Jean is coming to the hospice to meet the first Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care in Wales and to see our nurse led model of hospice care.

So that’s probably about it at the moment, I’ve never done anything like this before, so please comment. Hopefully it’ll be much less wordy next time!

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