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Interviews 2: Know us for when you need us…

Introducing Shardae Donker, Social Worker

What does a day look like for you? 

Coffee and meetings. I typically only work school hours so I’m the one who comes into the morning interdisciplinary meetings clutching a coffee and whatever I can rustle up for breakie. At these morning meetings we discuss patient and whānau needs both in the community and our special care unit and I start to plan my day. I visit patients and their whānau across all settings; Hospice inpatient care unit, Nelson hospital, age residential care and most often in their own homes. We cover a wide geographical area, so I also spend a lot of time on the phone liaising with wider communities’ teams and agencies too. 

What is your role at Nelson Tasman Hospice?

Social work looks at how illness impacts our social lives. We consider the impacts on our identity, the emotional and physical toll of caregiving, how family roles can change and the practical needs of patients and whānau such as financial and housing needs. No two days are the same. I start where patients and their whānau are at on any given day. I work alongside individuals and whānau to help them identify their support needs in effort to alleviate stress, increase self-confidence and foster greater resilience. 

What do you find the most rewarding about the work that you do?

It is such a privilege to support patients and their whānau at such an intimate time of their lives. It can be a time of great sorrow, but also a time of great healing and connection. Witnessing the exchange of love between individuals, whānau and communities as they come together to support one another is incredibly heart-warming. I know I can step back when I see the resilience of patients and their whānau grow as they learn to embrace the uncertainty of what lies ahead and transform it into opportunities for healing and growth. Knowing that you played a small part in facilitating opportunities for connection and healing is incredibly humbling. Working in this space encourages me to love my family and friends that little bit more, to do that thing that I have always wanted to do and to not always sweat the small stuff.

Introducing Stephen Mullins, Registered Nurse in the Inpatient Unit

What is your role at Nelson Tasman Hospice?  

I am one of the team of Registered Nurses in the Inpatient Unit.

What does a day look like for you? 

If it’s a day shift, it means getting up earlier than I would like.  Wide awake for the half hour handover at 7am, and then I like to look through my patient’s previous shifts notes, so I’m prepared for whatever happens. Check in with my patient’s, and then the Team kick in.

We provide care, support, listen, give symptom relief, listen, guide family and friends, pull in expertise as, listen, be beside people, do whatever will help but not take over.

What do you find the most rewarding about the work that you do?  

Seeing people have a good death. And guiding family and friends so they, while being sad if someone dies here, they feel it has been positive.

What’s a myth about hospice services that you would like to dispel?

That it must be a sad place to work.


Nelson Tasman Hospice has launched a Podcast Series – “Know us for when you need us” on YouTube.
These are a series of interviews talking to people that work at or have been personally impacted by the work of Nelson Tasman Hospice.
A big thank you to Todd Starr & Hannah Tunstall of In A Nutshell for producing our series.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

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