Nurse tells of passion for working at a hospice

Nicola Fountain is a nurse at Sue Ryder.

Now Nicola works at the Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice as part of a team providing palliative care, having joined in 2017. - Credit: SUE RYDER

Caring for patients with life-limiting conditions has become a vocation for Nicola Fountain who embarked on a new career as a nurse at the age of 30.

Now Nicola works at the Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice as part of a team providing palliative care, having joined in 2017.

Nicola said: “I didn’t train to be a nurse until I was 30. I worked in office administrator jobs and also spent some time travelling, I didn’t quite find what I wanted to do.

“I considered a career in the police, but nursing won. Every day counts – it is a cliché, but it is true. It is rewarding helping patients to get the best care they deserve.”

After her training, Nicola worked at a hospital and then became part of a Hospital at Home scheme, treating people in their homes. 

She said: “I am passionate about palliative care and when a job came up at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice it was my opportunity.”

Nicola is now part of a multidisciplinary team, which includes fellow nurses and nursing assistants, doctors, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, family and bereavement support workers and a chaplain-spiritual care coordinator, providing both medical and emotional support.

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Her typical day starts at 7am, with a handover from colleagues and a ward round to check in on patients and she also works night shifts to give 24-hour care.

“A key part of our patient care is making sure people are as comfortable as possible,” she said. “This includes relieving any symptoms they might be experiencing, such as pain, breathlessness and nausea.

“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to spend time with patients. I have the time to really get to know and care for them.”

She was on holiday when people were told to stay at home because of the pandemic and thought she had better get back to work.

Nicola said: “I came back to the hospice and started helping out. The first few months of the pandemic were a big learning curve.”

“It was a challenging time. The guidance changed rapidly and there was a lot to get my head around. But everyone really pulled together and there was plenty of support offered.”

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