What's it like to be a nurse at Martin House?

13 April 2020

Children’s nurse Leigh Hilton joined Martin House two years ago, following seven years working at neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in Derby and Wakefield. As part of International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, he shares an insight into his work at Martin House.

Working at Martin House is completely different to hospitals. Nursing at Martin House, you can give parents and children the chance to experience things they never would in hospital, but still provide the same level of care.

I remember in my very first week here, we took a little boy to Harewood House. He was ventilated, but we were able to help him go on a slide. To see his face light up as he was sliding down it – it’s something you would never see in hospital. It’s a different kind of job satisfaction.

There is no such thing as a typical day at Martin House, it fluctuates so much, depending on the child and the level of care they need, and the activities they want to do. We talk to families about what they want us to do, it’s always about communication. It’s so important to build relationships and rapport with families.

I’ve always been taught, and stand by the importance of, family-centred care, and that’s the ethos of Martin House too. It’s not just this child who has come in with that condition. We incorporate the whole family, from siblings, parents and grandparents; we look at it holistically, to make sure we offer the level of care and support families’ need, when they need it.

I quite like to go on days out and give families and children that experience, where they don’t have to worry about how to get there, or not having back up if they need it, because we are with them and we can do it together.

We are quite diverse as a team, and I like the fact we all come from different backgrounds and have knowledge of different things, but we all pull together to be there for each other as a team. As physiotherapists, or healthcare workers, or nurses, we all have something to learn from each other.

During my first Christmas at Martin House, I remember there was a family in for end of life care. Just giving them that opportunity to spend time together as a family, not thinking about their child’s condition, whether he needed medication or personal care, but to spend time in that moment together. Something like that speaks a thousand words about why we do what we do.

It’s a very special place to work, and I feel very privileged working alongside my colleagues, with families who need us. I feel very lucky that I can do that.