Today is an extra special day for us, not only is it International Nurses Day, but we are also coming closer to the end of Mental Health Awareness week!

I asked our lovely STAR Team Family Service Support Worker, Michelle, for a chat to discuss the support she provides to our families and how she keeps her own mental health in check. Read on to find out a little more about Michelle and just how much she helps Richard House and our families.

Michelle lived in Beckton for 20 years and was here when Richard House Hospice first opened its doors. Michelle would come to the hospice and help out with fundraising, which is where her interest of nursing and care began. She has always been keen on the aspect of helping families any way she can. Michelle left to became a carer for her mum, before her mum passed away. But Michelle said this gave her the strength to pursue what she loves, nursing and caring for people. A role appeared at Richard House and the rest is history!

Michelle has been working as a Family Services Support Worker for 7 months now and is doing an absolutely fantastic job with our families. In her role, she supports families in any way she can. This can be through helping families access any services they may need, from emotional support, to even housing support for our families. Emotional support is something we have been talking a lot about this week, in light of Mental Health Awareness Week and it's theme "Loneliness", I asked Michelle what emotional support does she provide for our families?

"I provide a lot of phone calls to parents, I can refer them to Alicia, our counsellor and provide them with any additional support such as help with filling in forms. We recently started our Mums group back up after covid, which seems to really help our Mum's have a bit of breathing space and me time. Even if it's just for half an hour, it's an avenue for them to be free."

Michelle also helps out with Catering and Hospice at Home, where she can visit the children and their families. I asked Michelle how does she keep her own mental health in check and avoid burning out? 

"I enjoy being creative, I make my own natural vegan beauty products such as body scrubs and facial creams. It keeps my mind ticking, I started doing this before my Mum got unwell, as she loved it all. But I stopped for a while after she passed away, as the memory was too much for me. But I started back up again and named an oil after my Mum called 'Mumma Suzie' and that has given me such strength."

This International Nurses Day we are celebrating the incredible difference our nursing staff, like Michelle, make to our families lives. Despite working through challenging circumstances, our nursing staff continue to go above and beyond to deliver highly skilled, safety-critical care every single day. Today is our chance to recognise everything they do, and say thank you.

Because without them we wouldn't be Richard House.