ROUND the clock support contributes to making the Hospice at Home service so invaluable for families and patients.

Joanne Houghton is one of the St John's Hospice nurses who works as a night sitter - her shift starting at 9.45pm and finishing at 6.45am.

"I phone the hospice to see where I'm going and I get a really good handover regarding the patient," she said. "I'm told about the patient, their needs, their diagnosis, all about the family - so you familiarise a bit with the family as well as the patient.

"Before I leave home I phone the patient just so we can have a chat because sometimes it'll be the first time that you meet them - there's a bit of familiarisation with their voice and my voice so they don't feel as on edge as much."

Ms Houghton is a health care assistant with a background as a care assistant in the community. Previously she worked as a hairdresser and it was caring for her grandparents that made her realise that she would like to work in the care profession.

Her job now, she said, ensures that families are able to take a break after long days of looking after their loved ones.

"It's supporting the family, supporting the patient - sitting with the patient all night whether they're sleeping or so forth.

"It's so family can have a rest. It is quite a big thing and although they have got help during the day they are constantly on their feet. It's just to enable them to get a little bit of rest at night, to recharge their batteries."

Ms Houghton, who lives in Kendal, has been working as a night sitter for the past year - although the job is difficult, she said that it is also very rewarding.

"If there has been a bereavement I do go home and think - everything plays over in your mind," she said. "It can be difficult but it's also rewarding and it's nice to know that the family's had that support."

* If you want to donate to the appeal please complete the coupon above.


If you or your family has been helped by a Hospice at Home nurse and would like to share your story, please contact Sara Royle on 01539 790260 or email