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Tamara Cowell

Name: Tamara Cowell

Job title: CNS Paediatric Palliative Care

Speciality: Hospice

Organisation: Alexander Devine Children's Hospice Service Maidenhead Berkshire

What is your current role?

I am a CNS working within the hospice and surrounding community providing a nurse-led service dedicated to children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, supporting symptom management and end of life care. The key priorities of my work include:

  • supporting flexibility of care and care closer to home, working in conjunction with CCN teams
  • assessment of children with life-limiting or life threatening conditions
  • advance care planning
  • managing symptoms
  • co-ordinating care, especially at end of life
  • liaison with medical colleagues
  • training and education.

What was your route to this role?

My previous roles include Staff Nurse upon a general surgical unit, Staff nurse withing PICU, Staff nurse for Health visiting and my last role was Children's Community Nurse Team lead for 12 years.

What prompted you to do this role?

I had significant exposure to end of life care and symptom management whilst working within the CCN team but would sometimes become frustrated that I wasn't able to provide the children and families with a more comprehensive service to manage symptoms and discuss advance care planning. I have worked alongside Alexander Devine for many years and watch the service grow and expand from providing community respite to building a 6 bed hospice. The CNS role is one that was created earlier this year in response to the caseload requirements, a medical colleague of mine suggested I apply to the post as we had worked closely providing end of life care for many years.

After working in a very diverse complex and acute CCN service, I was keen to find a focused direction to my career and gain further knowledge and skills to enable me to practice more autonomously.

What education/courses/modules have you undertaken to equip you for the role?

  • DipHe Nursing- Child Branch
  • Specialist Practitioner Qualification including Nurse Prescriber
  • Physical Assessment of Children
  • Advanced communication training
  • Advance care planning.

How do you see yourself developing your skills?

I am hoping to complete my non-medical prescribing module which will enable me to formulate symptom management plans. There are further modules I would like to complete to gain my masters in advanced practice.

What is your long-term career plan?

I have always seen great benefit in the advanced nurse practitioner roles and would look to develop myself into an ANP for paediatric palliative care. Currently I cannot see myself within a non-clinical management role as I am very passionate about maintaining patient contact on a day-today basis.

What advice would you give someone thinking about moving to work in your area of practice?

Find out about the palliative care services within the geographical area you would like to work in. Many hospices run open days so go along to those and look at the different environments for in-patient care. There are also palliative care teams who solely deliver care within the child's home.

There are several introduction, 1-2 day courses for palliative care, and the RCN Competencies: Caring for Infants, Children and Young People Requiring Palliative Care are a really good place to start to complete a self-assessment for the skills needed to work within a palliative care service.

What do you most enjoy about this area of care?

I see it as a huge privilege to provide palliative care to children and their families and I am humbled by the experiences I have had over my career especially during the end of life care I have delivered.

The strength of the individuals I meet amazes me, and their willingness to invite me in as their nurse during the most private time of their life is such an honour.

Whilst I am unable to change the outcome for the children I care for, I know I am able to facilitate their journey to ensure it is as pain free and comfortable as possible, enabling them to make special memories with their loved ones.

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