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St Catherine’s Hospice nurse retires after 36-years of care given

Posted on - 5th March, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Health, Lostock Hall, Preston News, Proud Preston
Bernadette Baxter has retired after 36 years at St Catherineā€™s Hospice

The first person to be appointed at St Catherine’s Hospice by the matron the year it opened has retired.

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Bernadette Baxter has spent 36 years working at the hospice, and has shared some of her fondest memories from her time there.

Bernadette said: ā€œI remember that first year everything was new, exciting and very scary.

ā€œWe advertised and recruited a team of nurses, the housekeeping team and kitchen staff. I remember spending hours trawling through applications from hundreds of prospective volunteers and we invited people to an information evening and to have a tour of the hospice.

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ā€œI had no idea what to expect when I started; it was fascinating really because we had time to find our feet and get a feel for what people needed from us. The first six months after we opened were actually very quiet but as the services developed and it got busier, I felt so satisfied with the work we were doing and how we were helping people.ā€

Bernadette, who lives in Leyland, has worked in Day Therapy and on the Lostock Hall hospiceā€™s inpatient unit, before becoming a Physician Assistant.

She said: ā€œThe hospice has changed so much since those early days. Today there are libraries devoted to palliative care but the goals are unchanged and the holistic essence of hospice care has never been lost.

Bernadette Baxter doing a firewalk

ā€œBehind every diagnosis is a person and a family and we need to explore not only symptoms but the thoughts and feelings, hopes, dreams and expectations, their fears and all the other emotions that make us human.

ā€œItā€™s often the small acts of kindness that make the most difference, reaching out, really listening and allowing people the space to be just be, perhaps over a cup of tea or a bacon butty.

ā€œThe pandemic has caused the hospice to constantly review working practices. Itā€™s been a huge challenge to keep everyone safe and effectively communicate with families about their loved ones, and for once technology has come to the rescue and enabled conversation, medical and nursing updates and face-to-face meetings to take place safely.ā€

Bernadette has also done a skydive for the hospice

Bernadette has had her fair share of adventures during her time at St Catherineā€™s, including doing a daring skydive and a firewalk to raise funds for the hospice in recent years.

She also braved a ā€˜Predator Experienceā€™ in the Lake District which involved walking with wolves, and enjoyed dog-sledding in Finland. It came after she donated a kidney on turning 60 and was determined to embrace new experiences.

Next on her list is to take on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage walk across Spain; a gruelling 500-mile trek which usually takes around a month to complete.

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Bernadette ending saying: ā€œItā€™s hard to imagine life after St Catherineā€™s, but I have lots to look forward to.

ā€œIā€™m going to volunteer with the Preston Samaritans and do some educational medical role play. I also hope that once the pandemic passes that I can achieve a long-held dream to do the Camino de Santiago. But first I might bake some cakes.ā€

Dr Andrew Fletcher, the hospiceā€™s Medical Director, says: ā€œBernadette was one of the first people I met when I began working at the hospice in 2013. She was so welcoming, has been a huge support to me since then and has become a personal friend.

Bernadette Baxter has retired after 36 years at St Catherineā€™s Hospice

ā€œBernadette has seen lots of change during her time at the hospice and has embraced these, whilst never losing sight of the people we care for and their family being at the centre of everything we do, the importance of the little things as well as ensuring the principles of excellent nursing care.

ā€œI canā€™t even imagine how many people Bernadette has inspired and supported over the years. There are a lot of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and others who have greatly benefitted from the wisdom Bernadette has been able to share, helping us to reach more people and achieve our vision of helping people to experience quality of life to the end of life.

ā€œI will miss working with Bernadette but wish her an amazing retirement ā€“ Iā€™m sure she will have lots of holidays and almost certainly wonā€™t be putting her feet up!ā€

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