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A Day in the Life

Carl Stanborough is the First Contact Team Manager. We sat down with him to find out what it means to be the first port of call at St Joseph’s Hospice.

What would a typical day look like for you?

The first thing of the day is to check any calls that have come into the 24/7 advice line, this can sometimes be around 9 calls from patients or referrers needing help. They may be worried about their symptoms, want some advice or just need some reassurance.

I then attend a Multi-disciplinary team meeting to discuss referrals to the hospice and plan admissions if that’s the right option for the patient. The MDT is made up of staff from different services within the hospice, community nurse specialist, social worker, ward manager, therapy team and Day Hospice. We then discuss the referral and decide what services the patient needs.

When I get back to my office I will call patients, or their family member, to carry out a telephone assessment so that we can get the whole picture of what the patient needs. We provide an emergency response service whereby we will visit within 24 hours. This is unique to St Joseph’s and we’re lucky to have a consultant on call for complex cases.

I am supported by a fantastic team of three Community Nurse Specialists and four administrators. I couldn’t do this role without them, they’re an amazing support and highly skilled at being able to triage patients.

Why did you take on this role?

I’m a trained nurse and I spent many years working as a Community Nurse Specialist. First Contact Team Manager was a new role at the hospice and I thought it would be interesting to manage a new service. It needed shaping when I started but I’m really proud of how far we’ve come in three years. It’s also a challenge but a good one. The areas covered by St Joseph’s are multi-cultural and language can be a barrier, but we’re lucky to be able to access translators who can help us. When people call up they need reassurance and our help so good communication is vital. We’re the first point of call so we need to get it right.

Why did you want to work at St Joseph’s?

I’m from Cumbria and I came to work in London around 10 years ago. When I was training to be a nurse I heard a lot about St Joseph’s Hospice, it had a really good reputation and when the opportunity came along I thought I would try it out. I realised very quickly that the hospice sets the gold standard in palliative and nursing care and I really enjoy being part of the organisation. I have some personal experience of hospices and you find that people working in this field have genuine compassion and empathy which you don’t always get in other healthcare settings. I’m very happy here.

What do you love about your job? 

A good day’s work is when you get a patient the help that is needed, whether that’s a hospice bed, some welfare benefits advice, a home visit or just a reassuring conversation, that’s sometimes all that’s needed.

In the past year my team has dealt with 2,500 referrals. Our phones ring almost constantly and we get hundreds of emails and faxes every week that need to be responded to as soon as possible. Because of the nature of what we do, time isn’t always on the side of the person on the other end of the phone so we need to act quickly and responsibly. I’m lucky to have a professional, highly skilled team to make this work.

If you would like to make a referral, please contact our First Contact Team Monday to Friday between 8.00am and 6.00pm by calling 0300 30 30 400.

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