A NURSE has delivered a key speech to experts in palliative prescribing at a conference in London cementing a North hospice’s reputation in cutting-edge care.

St Teresa’s Hospice nurse consultant Sheila Dawson spoke to an audience of pharmacists, non-medical prescribers, MacMillan Nurses, physiotherapists and GPs on effective nurse prescribing in end of life care, at the Association of Prescribers Conference, Regents Park.

Sheila, 58, who has worked in the field of palliative care for over 11 years, said; “This is the first time that I had been asked to present at a conference since I joined the St Teresa’s team four years ago.

“I felt slightly apprehensive but it was good experience and I was pleased with myself for doing it.”

A relative late-comer to nursing, Sheila began working as a health care assistant in a nursing home in her late 30s.

“After I had my family I knew I wanted to do something related to health care,” she said.

“Being a health care assistant gave me the impetus to apply for a three year nursing degree after which I worked on hospital medical wards and in community hospitals before becoming a district nurse.

“But even then I knew that I wanted to move into palliative care as it allows you to work more on a one to one basis with patients and you also use a lot of basic nursing skills which can sometimes be forgotten in other high pressure nursing environments.”

After passing her nurse prescribing and clinical skills degree course, Sheila began working as a MacMillan Nurse enabling her to offer more continuity of care to her patients.

“I saw the advert for a nurse consultant for St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington, and I knew that it would be a good way of gaining promotion without losing direct clinical input with patients, something than can happen in some nursing managerial positions,” said Sheila.

“When I first came here, it took me a while to find my feet as it was a completely new role but St Teresa’s is an amazing place and I soon settled in.”

Sheila now spends her time working within St Teresa’s new inpatient unit as well as working with cancer patients within the community.

“The most rewarding part of my job is ensuring patients have the correct balance of medication to settle their symptoms and give them a quality of life that can enable them to be treated in their own homes if they wish,” said Sheila.

“I wouldn’t change anything about my career. I’m very lucky to be able to work in such a supportive environment.”

Hospice chief executive Jane Bradshaw said: “We have built up an incredibly high degree of skill and expertise at St Teresa’s which is cementing our reputation nationally in the field of palliative medicine. It is an honour and a privilege to share this knowledge with the rest of the country and validation of our unique approach to care.”