This year the Adver celebrates its 160th anniversary and to mark the occasion, we have launched an appeal to raise £160,000 for the Prospect Hospice. Today MARION SAUVEBOIS talks to the Prospect’s community nurses

THEIR task is one few could handle – yet to them caring for terminally patients in their own homes and allowing them to live as independently as their condition allows is a job they would never dream of trading.

Prospect Hospice community nurses’ crucial role is recognised by all those who rely on them as they grapple to deal with the irrevocability of their diagnosis and adapt to their new physical circumstances, loss of control, and often debilitating symptoms.

The first port of call for patients struggling with anything from breathlessness to bout of sickness, they are also a lifeline for families, a shoulder to cry on and the proverbial rock.

On their first visit each nurse will establish a care plan with the patient and his or her relatives suited to their specifics needs and wishes.

Depending on the plan, particular symptoms or how the condition progresses, they will refer them to the hospice’s other services and put carers in contact with the charity’s family support team and its psychologists.

“I am there to support patients and their families in the community and work with doctors, a multi-disciplinary team, and various services to help people live at home with their life-threatening illness,” said Jacqui Shakespeare, clinical nurse specialist.

“It is a shock to be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and it’s very difficult for people. Often I invite patients to the hospice for a chat over a coffee to alleviate some of their concerns.”

Far from a typical nurse mainly focusing on the illness itself, Jacqui along with her team care for the person as a whole, mentally and physically.

This entails being present for their overwhelmed families. All formalities, including uniforms, are left at the door to place patients at ease.

“I think seeing I don’t wear a uniform relaxes them the minute I walk through the door,” she added.

“We try to make it as informal as possible. You get to build relationships. It feels as though I am a friend. It’s more than a job. I am with them when they need me. Prospect is such an amazing service.”

Eileen Hicks, retired in September, 20 years after first joining Prospect Hospice as a community nurse. Over the past two decades she has had to deal with the deaths of her charges but despite the painful experiences and the toll her profession has taken, she never lost faith in the importance of the charity’s work.

“As a Prospect nurse specialist, you are always reflecting on the situations you work in, and look for ways in which you might have done better,” she said. “I never felt a sense that I hardened in the role. But you learn to cope with it better over the years.

“Throughout my years in this team I have always felt valued by patients and their families. From the day I joined I felt this was a wonderful environment in which to work. It has been very satisfying.

“You definitely have to be drawn to your role, but it can be enormously rewarding.”

Along the journey, difficult truths such as patients’ final wishes are freely discussed to bring families peace of mind.

“We want patients and their families to be able to talk openly about their concerns and main priorities,” said Catherine Piggin, clinical nurse specialist manager. “Their concerns vary from pain control to the support available for their family during their illness and after.

“It might be important for some people to remain at home and die at home. Although that might be their wish, members of the family might be quite frightened. They need to know what to expect and we are there to help.”

How to get involved

  • By cheque: With the donation form on the right
  • By card: Online through the donate now button,
  • In cash: Prospect Hospice reception in Wroughton, Prospect Hospice retail shops or the Swindon Advertiser office
  • Prospect Hospice can also take card donations over the phone – contact the fundraising team on 01793 816161
  • Taking part in an event for Prospect? Why not donate through our appeal – let us know via email on or call us on 01793 501806.