Each Clinical Nurse Specialist Louise McLaughlin on their role
08h00 February 26, 2022
A clinical nurse specialist at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) thinks she works for a ‘record organisation’ and it is ‘the perfect place to take my career forward’.
Louise McLaughlin, 35, has been in her role at EACH Milton hospice for just over six months, having started at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, before spending 14 years at Keech Hospice Care, based in Bedfordshire.
Now that she’s settled, the mum-of-two thinks EACH is the perfect place to advance her career thanks to the wealth and knowledge of the team she works on.
“I’ve always been interested in hospices and palliative care. That’s what I studied in college,” Louise said.
“I spent my first year in the profession working in the oncology department at Addenbrooke, but I felt it wasn’t quite what I needed.
“I moved to Keech Hospice Care and stayed there for 14 years, starting as a nurse in band five and working my way up to clinical nurse specialist.”
Louise believes that her work has incorporated her passion for palliative and end-of-life care and that’s when an opportunity presented itself to EACH.
“For me, it has always been a reference organization. It is primarily nurse-led and empowers nurses like me,” she said.
“A lot of very skilled and capable people work here and that’s why it’s absolutely perfect for me, because I wanted to come here and learn.”
She added, “Every day I learn something new because the learning opportunities are amazing.
“Leadership is very good and it’s an evidence-based practice with lots of support and opportunity.
“It’s the perfect place to pursue my career.”
A typical day for Louise as a clinical nurse specialist begins with tri-site and online planning meetings alongside colleagues from The Nook and The Treehouse.
He may then be asked to examine the condition of a child, either at the hospice, at home or in a hospital.
“Our days are always varied and it’s a real team effort,” she says.
“We have scheduled visits and in terms of talking to the parents, it’s about discussing next steps such as plans B and C.”
Louise has discussions with a child’s family about hospice and palliative care to make them understand what can be offered and what their choices are for their loved one.
She also writes symptom management plans for each child, discussing symptoms that might arise and how they can be treated. This may involve ordering medication.
“Sometimes this can involve adjusting medications, liaising with consultants and other team members to make sure the child is on the right medications and doses,” Louise said.
“We may also need to discuss some things with occupational therapists or liaise with welfare officers if parents or siblings need additional support.”
As well as covering the shifts herself, Louise says another important part of her job is organizing the work of the custodial staff, as she has to make sure “everything is documented”.
She admits that her job can be emotionally draining, but when it comes to end of life, she and her colleagues just want to make a difference.
“If a child has a particularly distressing symptom and is in pain, we need to be armed with the right medications,” Louise said.
“If it ensures they have a painless death, it makes management easier.
“There are obviously times when you can’t control the symptoms and that’s harder to accept.”
Despite her challenges, Louise loves her job very much. She finds it satisfying and rewarding and is proud to be part of the EACH team.
She believes that by doing her job, she and her team are filling a huge void in palliative care services.
“We’re needed – no one else can do our job – and we’re the palliative care experts,” Louise said.
“Intensive care and oncology staff watch what we do.
“There are so many cogs in a big wheel, from the work we all do to fundraising and retail and the marketing and communications team.
“There are a lot of people involved and it’s really great to be part of it. I love working for EACH.
She added, “Without this team ethic that EACH has, we wouldn’t be able to deliver the service that we do.”