AHEAD of International Nurses Day this Saturday (May 12), two nurses from Marie Curie Hospice in Penarth spoke about their working as nurses.

One nurse, who began her career as a midwife, before moving into palliative care has spoken of spending two decades caring for people living with a terminal illness, and their families.

Janet Stuart recently retired from her role as at the Cardiff and Vale Hospice after working there for 11 years.

Speaking ahead of International Nurses Day, Ms Stuart, who was working as a midwife across rural Africa before returning to Wales in 1991, said: “I knew nothing about palliative care, I had never worked in palliative care before, but when I walked in, it just had a lovely feeling to it, it was small, it was friendly and it was just what I needed.”

Ms Stuart says there have been changes during her time at the hospice, including providing care for people with a terminal illness other than cancer, which required a lot of learning about other conditions at end of life, and learning more about how terminal illness affects the wider family.

She said while many people go into nursing wanting to make people better, palliative care means having to make the remainder of people’s lives better – and only one chance to get it right.

“What we as nurses would consider very often a really important thing, wasn’t the patient’s top priority," she said.

“It was about looking at how to make their lives better, and making every day count. Every case, every person is an individual and you have to treat them as such.”

Another nurse who began her palliative care career and is now a ward sister, said she is passionate about her role.

Marla Muir, who has worked for terminal illness charity Marie Curie for 14 years, first started working as a bank healthcare assistant for the charity in Wiltshire.She is now the deputy ward sister on a ward at the charity’s Cardiff and the Vale Hospice.

“I’ve always been passionate about end of life care, it’s always been really important to me,” said Ms Muir, who worked as a healthcare assistant at the hospice for five years before starting her nursing training.

“Doing personal care wasn’t enough for me," she said.

"I wanted to be able to affect how their symptoms were managed. I wanted to be able to do more to make them comfortable and to have more input.”

Speaking about her journey from healthcare assistant to deputy ward sister, Ms Muir added: “Being able to make that difference was massive, and it feels as if I’ve completed my circle of where I wanted to be. It’s such a rewarding and privileged role.

“Families are always thanking us, but I say it’s a privilege for us."