‘Fabulous experience’ for Steyning nurse working at children’s hospice

Camille de Pierpont from Steyning SUS-140915-111112001
Camille de Pierpont from Steyning SUS-140915-111112001

Chestnut Tree House staff work tirelessly to make sure that the children and young adults who use the hospice’s services are cared for in the best way possible.

The help offered by Chestnut Tree House has vastly expanded since the hospice opened in November 2003. We are now caring for 300 children and their families across Sussex.

With increased numbers of children comes the need for more staff and so, on Tuesday 16 September 2014, Chestnut Tree House is holding a Recruitment Open Day at the hospice.

We encourage anyone interested in the roles listed below to come along and find out more about how you can be part of helping us care for local life-limited children.

Camille de Pierpont, 24 from Brussels in Belgium, now lives in Steyning and works as a Staff Nurse at Chestnut Tree House. Here, she shares her story about her ‘fabulous experience’ working at the only children’s hospice in Sussex:

What is your role at Chestnut Tree House?

“I am a Paediatric Nurse and I work as a staff nurse at Chestnut Tree House. I started in November 2013.

“I studied in Brussels in Belgium and I worked there for one year in a Neonatology Intensive Care service. It was a great job and I learned a lot.

“I came to England because my husband, who is also Belgian, came to work here as a gun-maker nearly two years ago. We got married in August 2013 and decided to embark on the British adventure. I can never thank him enough; this decision allows me to live this fabulous experience at Chestnut Tree House.”

Why did you decide to work at Chestnut Tree House?

“I already spotted Chestnut Tree House on the internet before arriving in the UK and I was able to attend their Recruitment Open Day in 2013.

“I have always appreciated working in places such as Chestnut Tree House and have had lots of training in this field. Indeed, it is not always easy, but I really appreciate the atmosphere of care which prevails there.

“I am convinced that the main aims of Chestnut Tree House are important.

“On one hand there is the respite side, which allows families and their sick child to have a “break” in their everyday life and to have some rest.

“On the other hand I think that there is nothing more important than having something in place like Chestnut Tree House to help a child and their family during the last days of the child’s life. Indeed, at the end of their life, it is not only the child who needs a lot of care but the family (parents, brothers, sisters or grandparents) also need support.

“It is not only Nurses and Care Support Workers who make up the team at Chestnut Tree House - it is much more than this. The team also includes the Community Team who provide care in families’ own homes, the doctors, the chaplain, the kitchen team, the psychologists, the play leaders, the housekeepers, the volunteers and the Admin Team. All these people work together at Chestnut Tree House to form a big family, and I think that this is what makes people coming into Chestnut Tree House feel at home and confident of the care the hospice provides.

“The atmosphere at Chestnut Tree House is very special. Every family lives or has lived through very difficult, sad and devastating experiences. It is true that there are ups and downs, but these families remain strong, united and close in spite of the situation. It is really very enriching to see them; it makes me realise what is really important in life.”

What does your job entail?

“When we start our shift at Chestnut Tree House we do not know what the day will bring, every day is very different and this depends on the children we are caring for and their conditions. I learn new things every day.

“On one day we could be putting everything in place so that a child with a complex disease has a beautiful day, by arranging new and exciting activities which they might not normally experience such as swimming in our hydrotherapy pool, going out in our minibus for a trip to the seaside, etc.

“On another day we might be taking care of a child in the palliative phase so we try to make sure that they don’t suffer pain or discomfort; that he spends good ’last‘ moments with their family around them.

“Listening and the communication have a very big place in this job, not only with the child but also with their family and between colleagues. We all support each other, like a big family.”

What’s the best part of your job?

“There are many good sides to my work.

“First of all, we meet children and fabulous families who teach us a lot. As I have already said, every day is unique and we learn new things every day.

“What is really great also is the atmosphere between colleagues. We support each other as a big family and we share good (I appreciate more and more the British humor) and sad moments.

“The challenge of finding an activity that a child affected by a complex disease likes, is also a good part of my job. Seeing a smile appearing on a child’s face gives you an inexplicable and wonderful feeling.

“Finally, in spite of the disease and all the difficulties it causes, seeing love between brothers and sisters and between parents and their child, is just so beautiful!”

What’s the worst part of your job?

“I tried to think of something but I cannot find any bad parts of my job!”

What would you say to anyone thinking of working at Chestnut Tree House?

“I would advise them to come to the Recruitment Open Day. This day allows you to understand what Chestnut Tree House is really about.

“Many people who hear about Chestnut Tree House think of a sad place. It is true that we sometimes live through sad and inexplicable moments, but the days can also be full of joy, laughs and happiness. The feeling you get when you see a sick child or a child affected by a rare disease smiling at you, is wonderful, it makes your day!”

If you have been inspired by Camille’s story and would like to find out more about working at Chestnut Tree House, pop along on Tuesday 16 September 2014 to our Recruitment Open Day.

Drop-in sessions and tours with our staff will take place during the following times: 9.30am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 7pm. Call HR on 01903 706317 for more information.

Report and picture contributed by Chestnut Tree House.