A Day in the Life of a Clinical Nurse Specialist

We caught up with Emma, who gave us an insight into her role as a Clinical Nurse Specialist for our Hospice at Home team

A Day in the Life of a Clinical Nurse Specialist

“My day generally starts in the office anytime from 7am, when we have a handover from the night team and plan the day ahead.  Sometimes we need to take over a patient’s care directly from the night team, so in these instances I head straight to a patient’s home. 

“I provide care for three or four patients per day.  The care I provide depends on the stage of their illness and their needs.  If it’s the first time I am meeting a patient and their family, I talk to them about who we are and how we can help.  I then assess their symptoms and undertake a holistic needs assessment that considers a patient’s physical, psychological and spiritual needs.  We look at the whole picture, and factor all these elements into our care plan – something other health professionals don’t always have the time to do.  

“I make sure the patient is on the correct medication and has sufficient pain relief and equipment to be comfortable at home.  A patient’s heath can quickly deteriorate, so we need to be as responsive as possible. Supporting the patient and their family through these changes and being clear how we can help, is an important part of my job. 

“Once my visit with a patient has finished, I make sure that other healthcare professionals that are responsible for their care – such as their GP, district nurse or hospital oncology nurse – are kept up to date about their condition.  This normally involves making some phone calls to the right people. 

“I then head to my next visit, making sure that I am up-to-speed with my next patient’s care needs and concerns. 

“As a palliative nurse, I have learnt to pick up signals from patients and their loved ones about the type of emotional support they need.  There is not always a right thing to say.  Knowing when people don’t want to talk is equally as important as knowing when they need to chat.  Sometimes a patient might just want practical support that day and know they can call the Hospice at Home team – day or night – if they need to.   

“My team at Rennie Grove Peace Team is really supportive.  There are times when it is a particularly sad situation.  We talk together about our experiences and understand that some days are harder than others.   

“At Rennie Grove Peace we are all united in trying to provide the best possible care.  It is a real honour to be able to spend time with patients and their loved ones.  We provide a 24-hour Hospice at Home service and people find that reassuring, as they know they can call someone from the Rennie Grove Peace team whenever they need us. 

“Many people do want to stay at home, and it is satisfying knowing that our care enables that.  Patients might otherwise not have the end-of-life experience that they want.  It is a real privilege to look after people in their home.  We try to make a difficult time for the patient and their loved ones, as comfortable and manageable as possible. 

I head home at the end of the day in time to pick up the kids and make dinner, rest comes later!”