Meet our nurses

Bernadette O'Gorman

Community Matron in the Life Force Paediatric Palliative Care Team
Bernadette O'Gorman

We support each other really well. We share the same focus, which is keeping the child in the centre of everything we do.

Bernadette O'Gorman
What's the best thing about working at Whittington Health?
 
Our Life Force palliative care team works in a multi-disciplinary environment, both internally and externally, and that’s interesting and rewarding for all of us.  In our team we have psychologists, respite nursery nurses, play specialist/youth worker, clinical nurse specialists and a palliative care consultant.  We work with hospital staff on the wards, with staff within special and mainstream schools, hospices and those working within social care settings.  Each day is different.  Fifteen years ago we received Lottery money to set up the Life Force Paediatric Palliative Care Team and I’m proud to say some of the team members have been with me from the beginning.  Retention is not an issue - we’re cohesive, we sit in the same office and we support each other really well. We all share the same focus, which is keeping the child in the centre of everything we do.
 
You work in a challenging area, how do you manage?
 
Being a children’s palliative nurse, people always ask ‘How do you do that?’ Being part of a close team helps and we regularly debrief after handling difficult cases and we get a lot of support as a group and as individuals. It may be a cliché but our work is a privilege. We are with families at very difficult times and care for them holistically both pre- and post-bereavement. We coordinate the support they need, be that from the excellent community nurses teams within Camden, Haringey and Islington or the excellent support from the local hospice or from other local services. From within the team we can provide pockets of care so parents can go out, our play specialist/youth worker can work with the child to help them understand their condition and cope with their treatments and also provide bereavement support to the siblings. Our psychologist works with parents both pre- and post-bereavement and helps to keep all team members mentally healthy. Our CNSs work to ensure the maximum support is available to the families. Working alongside the consultant, they are responsible for ensuring optimum symptom management and choices in place of care are offered to the families.
 
What are the rewards for nurses in this area?
 
We work closely with many disciplines and with other hospitals, including the North Middlesex, the Royal Free, University College and Great Ormond Street. Treatments and survival rates have improved; so many of our children with complex needs live longer using various technologies and therefore part of our role is to support them into school life and often help them with transitioning into adult care services. It is helpful for us to see that these children, with the right support, can achieve a good quality of life.
 
You've won awards for the team you lead?
 
Recently we received the Trust’s award of Clinical Team of the Year and the Care Quality Commission rated us as ‘Outstanding’ for the team and ‘Outstanding’ for Leadership. That success belongs to the whole team.
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Working on it!