Caroline's story

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My name is Caroline Cullen and I am the sister of the Woodgrange Centre which is the base for the day care services based at the hospice. Along with all the other hospice services the Woodgrange Centre is fundamental in the provision of supportive palliative care to the local community of Harrow and Brent.

St Luke’s Hospice has been a part of my life for 16 years. In 2002 I was first employed by the hospice as a junior staff nurse in the In Patient Unit (IPU). In 2004 my professional connection with the hospice became a personal relationship when my older sister was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. As a resident of Brent, Ann accessed the services provided by day care, IPU and the community team who all together enabled Ann to have a peaceful and dignified death at home surrounded by her family who loved her dearly. 

After Ann’s death my impending return to work was filled with emotion and trepidation, my biggest fear was I would no longer be able to do the job which I enjoyed but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The care and support of my colleagues and the wider hospice team eased my anxieties and helped me settle back into a job and a speciality I loved. 

In 2011 I left St Luke’s Hospice and started a new career in Northwick Park Hospital as a palliative care nurse specialist. The skills, expertise and knowledge I gained whilst working at St Luke’s Hospice instilled in me the confidence to ensure patients and families received the best possible symptom control, emotional support and end of life care in what is often described as the challenging environment of the NHS. My experience of working in the NHS was a valuable one, amongst many things it emphasised the importance of hospice care and how pivotal hospices, and the services they provide, are in the provision of supportive palliative care for patients and their loved ones.  

In October 2014 I returned to St Luke’s Hospice as sister of the day-care services. Along with the Harrow community team, St Luke’s Hospice day-care was the first service to start in 1987 in a converted house on Harrow View. With the completion of an extension and a new name (Woodgrange Centre) out of all of the hospice services day-care has seen the most significant and fundamental change in the past two years. I consider myself fortunate and privileged to have returned to the hospice during such an exciting and innovative stage of service development.

For many people, the first introduction to St Luke’s Hospice is through the Woodgrange Centre. We recognise and acknowledge that stepping through the main entrance of the hospice for the first time is a daunting, anxious and uncertain time for many people. Adopting a person centred approach is our priority and we ensure that their first interaction with St Luke’s Hospice is a positive and supportive experience for everyone including their families.