THE curtain has risen on the next phase of a nurse’s career after being appointed to a specialist role at a much-loved hospice.

Sarah Metcalfe, who turned to nursing after originally pursuing a career in design crafts for the entertainment industry, is St Teresa’s Hospice’s latest clinical specialist.

She will now work with the charity’s consultant assessing patients, diagnosing conditions and developing individual care plans to ensure the highest quality of life as they live with life-limiting illnesses.

Stockton-born, Sarah was brought up in Darlington, the daughter of a nurse mother and GP father. She attended Teesside High School, before reading an honours degree in design crafts for the entertainment industry.

“Back then art and design was my first love, particularly costume making,” she recalled. “I came second to my friend in a national design competition, the BBC Award for Design, which would have led to a placement.

“It was very difficult to find an arts job so I came back home and took the Access to Health course at Darlington College. I then did an advanced diploma in nursing at Teesside University and secured a placement at St Teresa’s as well as Darlington Memorial Hospital.”

Sarah said she preferred the type of nursing the hospice offered compared to a busy hospital ward because she could spend more time with patients and families.

“Just as I qualified a position came up at the hospice and I was really fortunate to get the job,” she said.

Sarah continued her professional development over the following years, honing her clinical skills, becoming a nurse prescriber and sister on the in-patient unit.

She continues to feel strongly about the need to provide a dignified end of life experience for patients and their families.

“I love seeing the time that is dedicated to patients and their families, the personalised symptom management and the compassionate person-centred care,” she said.

“My new role is challenging and I’m aware of the increased level of responsibility. I do a lot of research on drugs and their effects on co-morbidities, which is very interesting and I’m really enjoying. It also makes me appreciate the cost of care and how lucky we are to have the hospice.

“The aim is to make every patient journey as memorable and positive as it possibly can be and I feel so proud to work at St Teresa’s, a place of laughter and smiles as well as, at times, tears. It is a privilege to be with a really special team of colleagues who work tirelessly to provide the very best patient and family care we can.”

Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw said: “We are thrilled with Sarah’s appointment which is recognition of the high level of skills she has developed over the time she has been with us as a nurse.

“Quality is the lynchpin of the care the hospice offers to people in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire and Sarah will help us maintain this in the future.”