Hilary Neville

[00:00:00] My name is Hilary Neville, and I’m an Irish Cancer Society night nurse. I’ve been working with the Irish Cancer Society for the last 26 years in this capacity. I am living in County Clare. I’m originally from Dublin, but I’ve been in County Clare for the last 20 years and have done most of my work in this area in Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary.

Galway, sometimes as far as Kerry. I’m married to Morris. We have five children and they are beginning to flee the nest now, kind of scattering around the globe, but we’ve one still here at home and my work has carried alongside raising them. And it’s, it’s been very complimentary. I fell into night nursing by accident actually.

I had two small children. I hadn’t been working, but I was dying to get back into the workforce, and I approached an agency in Dublin. We lived in Kildare at the time, and they suggested this, and I was initially horrified. My kind of background was general nursing specializing in orthopedics and [00:01:00] spinal injury, so it was, Sick people, uh, you know, were kind of outside my remission, was more injured I was used to working with and they suggested I try it anyway, you know, the hours were very family friendly.

The night nurse’s job is to go into, we work from 11 o’clock at night till 7 in the morning, so it’s an 8 hour shift. And we go into people’s homes, and these people are usually under the care of the palliative care team in their area, and the referral comes from them. And we go in at night, and, and the job kind of divides over kind of care of the patient, and care of the patient’s family.

It’s a dual role without a doubt. So it’s around, you know, kind of symptom relief, kind of making sure they’re pain free, that any of the other kind of sort of symptoms. nausea or restlessness or anything that we can, you know, help them with that, either repositioning or medication, kind of an emotional support is very important at this time as well.

Like sometimes we go into houses where there are, you know, carers, nurses, doctors in the family, kind of, and they shoulder a lot of the responsibility as [00:02:00] the medical member of family. And it’s nice to be able to go in, kind of, and relieve them of that and allow them to be, you know, the husband or the wife or the son or daughter, kind of, or, Or even the neighbor, kind of, that they’re not having to be in that role all the time.

I was gifted this lovely poem here from a family member of a patient I cared for just at the very start of COVID. I spent four nights with this family, kind of, you know, and, and at a distance got to know them, kind of, and managed to support them. And a few months afterwards, this lovely gift arrived to my house and it was.

Now it says ode to Hillary on it because my name is Hillary, but really it’s an ode to every night there’s in the country. And it said, Today an angel came into our lives, swept in like a long lost friend, warm, friendly, capable, compassionate. She gently lifted the worry and the grief that had nearly crippled us.

And carried us with such ease. She held us for four nights, and on that [00:03:00] final night, as our hearts were breaking into a million pieces, she kept us close and carried us into the dawn of a very different world. And I keep that in my house because it, I, I feel so privileged to do this job and and, that all sounds clichéd, I know people say you’re angels, and we’re not angels, you know, we’re, we’re nurses kind of with, with particular skills, but it meant a lot to me.

That, you know, it kind of summed up my job and the job of all the night nurses throughout the country.