A Day in the Life Of...

Read stories about a day in the shoes of a Rennie Grove worker from across all different areas of the charity: 

A day in the life of: Tina Bodell, Children’s Nurse

Tina Bodell

Tina Bodell joined Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s children’s nursing team in 2017.  She has been a children’s nurse for 33 years.

0900   Tina’s arrives at her first patient visit of the day.  This is a planned visit that has been booked in advance and takes place once a week.  On arrival, her first question to Mum is “how are you”.  Mum is looking tired, she was up at least 5 times in the night because Danny was unsettled, so after talking about Danny’s condition and about the family’s health in general, Tina encourages Mum to pop out for an hour or so with Daisy, Danny’s younger sister.

Danny is 13 and has a rare condition that causes muscle weakness.  All of Danny’s muscles are affected which means that he needs help with everything, including his breathing and eating. Danny needs lots of medical equipment and this makes going out as a family really difficult. He can be rather withdrawn and spends a lot of time playing on his iPad.  After his mum has left, Tina takes Danny off his ventilator, which is a mask and machine that helps him breath overnight. When he is well, he doesn’t need it in the day. Tina then gives Danny a milk feed through a gastrostomy tube, a tube directly into his tummy. Tina encourages him to do something a little more physical and stimulating and so they play a couple of board games and some indoor basketball with a foam ball.

When Mum gets home she looks much more relaxed; Daisy has enjoyed some time alone with her Mum and Danny is brighter too.

1200   Tina leaves Danny and eats her lunch en route to a multi-disciplinary team meeting where all the professionals involved in the care of seven year old Annabelle will be present.  Annabelle has Rhett’s Syndrome which causes her to have lots of seizures.  The meeting is taking place at Annabelle’s school and her social worker, teacher and her GP are there.  Each professional updates on their most recent interactions with Annabelle and her family and they discuss whether she is making the progress that everyone would expect.  The group agrees that Annabelle would benefit from attending some after school activities to help her gain confidence. The staff at the afterschool club will need to get to know Annabelle and learn how to care for her safely if she has a fit. Tina said that she will come along to a session with Annabelle to help her settle in.

1400   Tina returns to her office base in Tring and spends around an hour updating patient notes on Infoflex (which is Rennie Grove’s Patient Database), reading and responding to emails and liaising with colleagues in the team.  She also takes a call from the father of one of her patients who wants some advice on his child’s condition. The child is just getting over a bad cold and is being sick after her feeds. Tina gives him some advice about changing how much and how often she is being fed.

1500   Tina heads off to her final visit of the day.  This time it is a patient that has been newly referred to the children’s service as needing an urgent visit.  This is quite a distance from Tring and involves a long drive.  The new patient is Joe.  He has a tumour in his kidney and his family needs help with managing his symptoms.

Once introductions have been made Tina starts the meeting with an explanation of Rennie Grove Hospice Care and the work that its children’s nurses can offer the Joe and his family.  These include care that is tailored to Joe’s condition, medical support, pain management, help with administering medication and an on-call service that families have access to 24/7.  Tina explains that they will work closely with the children’s community nurses and the local hospice to make sure that Joe and his family get the help that they need to care for Joe at home.

1700   After booking her next appointment with Joe, Tina heads home to her own family where, in between catching up the days’ news with them and getting the evening meal underway, she logs onto Infoflex to update Joe’s notes.

And as she is not working the following day, she emails the team to brief them on the key points of Joe’s condition that they may need to be aware of and phones the on call nurse to have a more detailed conversation about Joe in case his condition deteriorates overnight.

Tina said “No two days are the same for a Rennie Grove children’s nurse as things change so often.  As well as spending time providing clinical support to our children, we try to provide holistic care to the whole family too.  This might include acting as the link between all health and social care professionals involved in their child’s care; making sure parents, siblings and carers’ needs are looked after and working alongside them to deliver care to their child.  Our families trust us completely as highly skilled clinicians who know all about the complex needs of their child.  They feel reassured that they have access to a member of the team at any time of the day or night.  This is crucial when you are caring for a very sick child at home.”

Day in the Life ​of: Sarah Gaywood, Shop Manager

Sarah Gaywood

Sarah arrives at work and reviews the handover book for messages from her assistant manager.  She updates the motivational money board with last year’s takings on this day; checks the shop floor for trip hazards and makes sure the shop is ready to trade.

0850   Sarah opens 10 minutes early to catch commuters from the station.  She sells a greetings card and a tie almost immediately and takes in a bag of donations from a grateful donor delighted that she is open already.

0900   Sarah receives a phone call from a customer who saw a vase in the shop window yesterday evening. She wants to know if it’s still available. Sarah agrees to put it behind the till for her to collect later and rearranges her window display.

0930   Sarah’s volunteers arrive and she makes them a cuppa and catches up with their news before briefing them on the day’s plans. 

1000   Retired accountant, John, takes his place at the till and Rachel, mum-of-two, begins the fortnightly ‘cull’ of items which have not sold within two weeks.  80% of Sarah’s trade is repeat custom; people come back on an almost daily basis because Rennie Grove’s stock is regularly refreshed and rotated between shops. Sarah sorts through donations in the back office, pricing items and preparing them for display.  She spots something she thinks would sell well on eBay.  A quick web search confirms that the electric guitar is valuable and could fetch up to £100 on Rennie Grove’s eBay store.   

1100   The Rennie Grove van arrives, mid-way through its tour of the Hertfordshire shops.  Volunteer driver, Phil and ‘driver’s mate’, Derek bring armfuls of new donations from head office plus unsold items from another shop. They swap these for the items Rachel has ‘culled’ and take Sarah’s eBay find.  Volunteer eBay listers based at Bainbridge House in Berkhamsted list 250 to 300 items each week on eBay, bringing in over £2,000 on a weekly basis.

1130   A gentleman brings in donations.  He explains that the items belonged to his wife, who passed away last month after Rennie Grove’s nurses cared for her at the couple’s home.  Sarah guides the gentleman, who has introduced himself as Patrick, into the back office to talk over a cup of tea. He is tearful but grateful for the chance to chat.

1200   When Patrick, fortified by tea and talking, has taken his leave, Sarah finds a stunning set of blue and white china amongst his donations.  She knows it will look great in the window so she sets about updating her display. 

1300   Rachel and John finish their shift as the afternoon’s volunteers, Margaret and Nancy, arrive to begin theirs.  Sarah repeats the morning’s ‘huddle’ to update the ladies over a cup of tea and catch up on their news before retiring to the office for a quick sandwich.  She checks her emails and rotas, then phones her ‘cover’ volunteer, Amy, who is often happy to fill in when regular volunteers are unavailable.  She arranges for Amy to cover Nancy’s afternoon slot next week, so that she can attend a friend’s funeral. 

1400   While Margaret manages the till, Sarah shows Nancy how to use the steamer to press the creases out of donated clothes.  Then she PAT tests the electrical items in Patrick’s donation. 

1530   Two girls from St Albans High School call in to enquire about volunteering as part of their D of E award.  Sarah talks to them about the role and shows them what it would involve.  They depart happily with application forms in hand.

1615   The rag collector pays a late visit and Sarah hands over a bag of ‘rags’ – textiles too worn or torn to sell.  He calculates the bag will fetch £35. All clothing is displayed for six weeks across three shops then discounted to £2 in one of Rennie Grove’s clearance shops. If still unsold, it will begin a new life as a J cloth or roof insulation.

1630   Sarah prepares for tomorrow’s trade: till roll in place; carrier bags to hand; sufficient change available; milk in fridge.

1700   Sarah shuts up shop and welcomes 15 of her 23 volunteers to a meeting. After a brief update on income figures, she sets them the task of filling in gift aid forms for one another.  Rennie Grove was among the first hospice charities to introduce the gift aid system in their shops.  Encouraging customers to fill out these forms increases the value of their donation by 25% and brings in a further £75,000 each year.

1800   Sarah secures the building and the team departs for a lively dinner in a nearby restaurant.