Liz Nabirye (palliative care nurse from Mulago Hospital, Kampala) visited the UK in October 2017 for a palliative care course on a bursary from St Christopher’s Hospice.
Whilst here she visited members of the Blackfriars Overseas Aid Trust. Their generous donation to Uganda Cancer Trust UK has enabled us to contribute to Liz’s salary. She also made a visit to the Maggie’s Centre at the Churchill hospital. Here she writes about her trip:
My visit to the UK
The award of a bursary to attend an academy week at St Christopher’s was a dream come true for me. My visit to the UK will always remain such a memorable one. The international exposure really expanded and broadened my knowledge of end of life aspects with participants who were from different parts of the world.
I was inspired by the feedback I received on sharing my Ugandan experience, especially when many said we were doing great work and wanted to hear more on how we were overcoming the challenges. My valuable visits to the Royal Marsden and St George’s hospital enabled me to see palliative care operating in settings with available resources.
I then came to Oxford and had an opportunity to meet members of the Blackfriars Overseas Aid Trust committee at Blackfriars church. They were very welcoming and were interested to hear about my experience of working in a resource limited setting and about my role in everyday work with cancer patients. I was able to explain to them that I was not only involved in providing clinical care, psychosocial and spiritual support but another important aspect of my work was the provision of information to address the concerns of cancer patients and their families. One of the other roles I shared was my involvement in training and mentoring link nurses and volunteers who bridge the gap and ensure continuity of care. I also expressed our need for training more volunteers as some of the existing volunteers have moved into full time employment.
A visit to Maggie’s Centre Oxford
I visited Maggie’s Oxford at the Churchill Hospital. It is a beautiful building. This is a charity offering free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer their families and friends. No referral or appointment is needed to visit the centre.
What was so appealing was that the centre feels like home and yet it is an in-between space. It is not a hospice or a clinic. It is a drop in centre and it is free. It offers information, advice on nutrition, support groups, relaxation classes and a psychologist and cancer support staff. They are there for anyone needing to talk about the most intractable subjects like fear of dying, the anxiety of cancer returning and other issues not easy to address in a hospital environment. I appreciated that people with cancer and their loved ones need time and space as part of the total package of care and this support beyond cancer treatment.
My visit to the Maggie’s centre was a practical exploration of the potential for the development of an information and support centre for our cancer patients and their families.
I appreciate everyone who made it possible for me to have such a wonderful and memorable experience in the UK.