Laura Bengree under the spotlight

Laura Bengree is a clinical nurse specialist. Her role is a joint appointment between Naomi House & Jacksplace and University Hospital Southampton.

Clinical nurse specialists are senior nurses who are experts in their given field.

Laura said:

“I saw the advert for the clinical nurse specialist role at University Hospital Southampton and Naomi House & Jacksplace and was instantly attracted to the job. It seemed to me that the success of the role was about meeting the challenge of delivering a seamless and mutually beneficial partnership… and I do love a challenge!

“Part of my week is spent visiting various children’s wards at the hospital. That might include the paediatric intensive care unit, cardiology or oncology wards, to name but a few. This is a great opportunity for me to identify children that might benefit from using the service at Naomi House. The children we care for now are profoundly more complex than they were when the hospices opened. Most have multiple conditions and increasing numbers of children require invasive or non-invasive ventilation. Even children with brain tumours are requiring more respiratory support.

“The rest of my working week is spent at Naomi House, which is a step change from
the work at the hospital and a chance to spend more quality time with the children
and their families.

The time spent at Naomi House allows us to provide a really high quality continuation of service to families across the region. It also means we know exactly what skills, equipment and medicines are available at Naomi House, allowing us to facilitate a really rapid hospital discharge for children approaching the end of their lives.

“More recently, we have been inviting families who are staying at the hospital for a long time to visit the hospices, get a break from the hospital environment and spend some quality time together.

“The partnership has been working so well that Naomi House is now universally
known across the hospital’s children’s wards, and Naomi House is recognised as an organisation that can accommodate the most medically complex children. We are getting the word out that palliative care does not have to be a scary prospect.

“The respite, emergency, end of life and post bereavement services available at Naomi House are now fully embedded in care plans across University Hospital Southampton, and Naomi House is seen as an extension of the hospital’s offer. Both myself and Dr Michelle Koh, Naomi House & Jacksplace and University Hospital
Southampton’s paediatric palliative care consultant, have played an important role in getting us to a point where this is now routine.

“Perhaps one of the most important benefits of working in both locations is that I get to see the children from the hospital when they stay at Naomi House. I see them when they are relaxed, floating in the hydrotherapy pool or enjoying story time in the sensory room.

"As a result we are well placed and better informed to make judgements on that child’s quality of life and can better advocate for that child when important ethics decisions have to be taken. I’m a passionate believer that children with severe neuro-disabilities can have a massive quality of life, albeit one within their own frame of reference. That may not be immediately apparent when the child is in their hospital bed.

Naomi House & Jacksplace and University Hospital Southampton are the perfect team. We share the same values; both organisations are forward thinking, dynamic, hardworking and skilled. We are moving in step to develop our services and meet the palliative care needs of increasingly complex children, and key to that growth is our commitment to working together.

"Most importantly, we get great feedback from families on the difference we make, often at the most difficult of times.”