Kelly Irodenko – Sponsor a Nurse

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Kelly Irodenko has worked both in the community and at the hospice’s Inpatient Unit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The last year has not been without its challenges but like all my colleagues we have remained focused on supporting the patients and families under our care,” explained Kelly, a Development Community Clinical Nurse Specialist for the hospice.

“We have all adapted to new ways of working due to Covid-19, such as increased wearing of PPE, in order to protect patients.

“Although the uncertainty brought by Covid-19 has been stressful at times, I wouldn’t change my job for the world. Being able to continue supporting people during difficult times in their lives, has been one of the most rewarding and proudest moments in my career.”

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Originally from John o’Groats, in Scotland, Kelly began working for St Elizabeth Hospice in 2018, having previously worked at Colchester Hospital after finishing her studies at the University of Stirling.

During her studies she gained experience in palliative care through working alongside Macmillan and hospice nurses while completing her work training placements. As well as this, she also has a personal connection to the work of hospices and their importance.

She says: “Whilst in my last six months of training, my dad passed away at the age of 50 due to diabetes and other complications. I had been on placement previously in the hospice he was cared at. It was the week before Christmas he was in the hospice and the staff were just out of this world.

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“As I am from a small town everyone knows everyone and it honestly felt like we were surrounded by friends and it made this difficult time so much easier. I remember a nurse, who was my age, having a coffee with me and she just let me cry to her, she probably didn’t even realise how much this meant at the time.

“It was this experience that really instilled in me the importance of end-of-life care and the difference it can make to patients and their families.”

Initially joining St Elizabeth Hospice on the hospice’s inpatient unit, Kelly is now part of the community team working as a Development Community Clinical Nurse Specialist. A role which sees her work five-days-a-week, carrying out a wide range of tasks.

From providing guidance to callers on the hospice’s 24-hour advice line, OneCall, to visiting patients and their families throughout the community in their homes to provide care and support, each day is different for Kelly and her colleagues.

She says: “It’s a real privilege to have a job which allows you to make a difference, even if it’s the tiniest thing, to patients and families living through difficult times in their lives.

“From my own experience of hospice care, I know how important the all-round support is but the most important role of hospice nurses is to be there and to listen, whenever and wherever we are needed, as patients and their loved ones should never feel alone.

“My dad and my own experiences motivate me every day and I am so grateful I am in this role. My mum is so supportive and proud of me in my job and I can honestly say there is nothing else I can ever imagine doing or wanting to do.

“With Covid-19, the jobs of all healthcare workers have been made more challenging, but the hardest thing for me was the fear of the unknown.

“It all seemed so unreal like we were witnessing a film play out in front of us. I would often wake up and think ‘has it ended yet?’ However, these experiences have brought me closer to colleagues and patients, the hospice became a family to each other.

“It was so pleasing to hear patients saying there was no difference in the care we were giving and they were grateful our support. As well as this, the community support we received has been out of this world and we cannot thank them enough for their ongoing support which has enabled us to continue to develop our hospice services for the future.”

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