• Name: Harriet Devin 
  • Job title: Nurse in the Community Palliative Care Team 
  • Joined the team: May 2017


How did you get into your role and come to work for Katharine House?  

Before I worked at Katharine House, I did the same job at Sobell House, the hospice located in Oxford. I worked there since 2009. Prior to working at Katharine House, I moved house to north of the county and commuting into Oxford every day became unmanageable. I was very lucky when a job became available at KHH and I could work a lot more locally to home. 

What’s a typical day like?  

My day is very unpredictable, and I have very little control over what I am going to be doing! 

My job is separated out into three different roles. The first one is what we call a ‘hub’ nurse. This is where we respond to calls coming into the palliative care team hub and need responding to that day. I can be responding to many different queries or concerns, prioritising the greatest need on that day. 

The second role is being part of the outreach team. This is where we assess patients on our virtual hospice ward who are unwell and need reviewing on a daily basis. This assessment may be via telephone, video call or home visit. 

The third role is what we call ‘planned’.  This is where we assess new patients and contact patients where changes have previously been made and require a review. 

What do you wish people knew about hospice care?  

I wish people knew that the support available at KHH is not just for patients at the end of their life. It is for patients with a life-limiting illness who need support with physical and/or emotional symptoms. It is also to support patients with improving their quality of life and supporting family members/carers to help caring for that patient. 

How does it feel to work for the hospice?  

I aways feel very lucky to be a part of the team at KHH. All of the staff are so kind and lovely to work with. The atmosphere is very calm and other staff always make time to say ‘hello’ and usually pass a comment about the weather! 

What makes Katharine House so special? 

The thing that makes KHH so special for me is the beautiful gardens. I love having a wonder round in my lunch break, getting some fresh air. I love to see all of the colours from the flowers and the wildlife surrounding the pond. I feel that this is a very special place that we are fortunate to have on site. 

As this week is Dying Matters Awareness Week, what are your tips and advice on starting honest and transparent conversations about death and dying to help people feel informed, supported and empowered at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives? 

Try to pick the right time, not when you have to be somewhere else or when you may be distracted by something else going on. Make sure, too, that person is comfortable. 

Ask that person if they feel ready to have a conversation at this time. Explain that it may feel really hard, but they will feel a sense of relief when it is done. 

Explain, too, that none of the decisions they make are set in stone and can be changed at any point. 

Try to be honest and open about your feelings. 

Now for some quick-fire questions…  

The best thing about my job is: being able to support patient and their families in their own home. 

My favourite dessert is: fruit crumble and custard. 

My favourite season is: spring. 

People are often surprised when I tell them: I went to Glastonbury when I was 16 years old. 

My idea of a perfect day is: going for a long walk and a pub lunch. 

I never miss an episode of: All Creatures Great and Small

Without doubt, the best animals are: dogs. 

The best advice I’ve ever been given is: don’t panic! 

I’m currently listening to: John Robbins and Ellis James podcast – it always makes me giggle.