Farewell, Dr James
Doctor James Druce recalls his time with us
"I will be a better Doctor because of the time I spent with staff and patients at Alice House.
You move around a lot as a junior doctor, especially in the first few years here we get rotated every four months. My first appearance at Alice House was one of these rotations, the luck of the draw. I had no prior experience of dedicated palliative care but I had heard wonderful things about Alice House. From my first day I met the friendliest and most caring bunch of staff who I spent the next four months learning from – and if you have had anything to do with Alice House then I’m sure you understand what a special place it is.
At the end of the rotation I realised I’d spent the last third of a year in my favourite job to date. Unlike all the others I’d worked through (fast paced North Tees wards with rarely a minute to talk to patients and families).
The Hospice allowed me the time to really spend with them. I liked it so much in fact that I took a year out of training to spend more time here.
Keeping the Hospice going is an enormous job. If you come in as a patient or family member you’ll be welcomed and looked after by the clinical staff – the nurses and sisters, the doctors, the healthcare assistants. Fondly known as the Hospice’s ‘Purple Angels’, these men and (mainly) women are, as their nickname states, angels.
Healthcare is not a glamorous job. It involves long hours and providing our patients with everything they need. That could be pain relief, blood tests, help with hygiene, assistance with skyping family, the hundreds of cups of tea we go through every day to just being someone who will sit and listen to whatever you want to talk about day or night.
There are so many more behind the scenes that keep the Hospice running. You’ll see the domestic staff working hard to keep everything looking so good and you’ll no doubt get to know the fantastic kitchen staff who make such incredible food for everyone; my waistline over the last year is testament to their abilities! Fundraising and communication staff work with the generous and supportive local Hartlepudlians to keep the doors open, the Administration staff organise, the Volunteers look after everyone and the management team keeps everything ticking over.
In my opinion, medicine and palliative care is the most privileged job in the world and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. There are many faces that I will forever remember. When you work in a hospice you are invited into the most personal aspects of someone’s life.
These men and women take the upmost pride in their job which is why the care given here is so wonderful and special.
Countless patients and families have shared their life stories. I have been inspired by stories of love, of joy, of war and of peace, of highs and lows, of proudest achievements and everything in between. I have seen a Hospice wedding, I have seen four generations of family together, I have seen the happiness that a visit from a pet can bring.
I am now entering the broad world of General Practice and I will be a better doctor because of the time I spent with staff and patients at Alice House. If I was part of your, or your loved one’s time at Alice House, thank you, because it was a privilege.”