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A day in the life of a children’s hospice nurse

Tuesday 9 February 2021

We caught up with Mike O’Neill-Walker, a Staff Nurse at Chestnut Tree House after a 12-hour shift to hear about how he racks up thousands of steps a day.

A photo of Mike“Every day is different at Chestnut Tree House, some days we can be playing with glitter and sparkles, or exploring the woodland walk, but others we will be providing end-of-life care and helping families through some of their toughest days,” says Mike.

“Due to the complex needs of our children, it’s hard to explain a typical day. But when I arrive in the morning, I catch up with the previous night’s staff for a detailed handover of any children who stayed overnight, details of new admissions for the day, and sadly, children whose condition deteriorated overnight.

“In the morning, children and families who stayed over the previous night have breakfast. Our wonderful catering team provide three meals a day and snacks for the children in House. Some of the children require feeding through a tube, so the team caters to each child’s individual needs. One of the things that families are most thankful for is having the chance to sit down and eat together, something that they rarely get to do at home with a child with complex needs.

“Throughout the day, children decide what they want to do, whether in the hospice or at their own homes, and they usually choose playtime! At the house, we have a magical multi-sensory room and computer room for when it’s wet outside, and our huge garden with swings and specialist play equipment for when the sun shines. The children can also enjoy our hydrotherapy pool and music room. During the day, we spend a lot of time running around playing games, and make-believe. Whilst also staying on top of many complex meds, medical interventions and feeds of the children.

“In the evening children and young people go to bed in their own private rooms whenever is right for them. Nights can be just as busy as days at the House, with many of the children requiring assistance with feeding, breathing, or managing seizures. Dawn breaks, and so another day at Chestnut Tree House begins…”