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Helping care for patients at East Cheshire Hospice left a lasting impression on nurse Gemma Thomas, who has recently completed her studies at the University of Chester.

During her time at the Warrington Campus studying Adult Nursing, Gemma became inspired by a lecturer to become a Dementia Friend in 2017, then underwent further training to become a Dementia Champion for the Alzheimer’s Society, promoting education around how it is possible for people with a diagnosis of dementia and their families to live well. She has helped run sessions both at the Campus and in local schools.

She is also a community first responder and trained with the North West Ambulance Service. She carries life-saving equipment including a deliberator and oxygen, which allows her to administer CPR at a patient’s side and start life-saving treatment before the ambulance crew arrives. 

For this voluntary work she was awarded the Ede and Ravenscroft Award for Excellence by the University, which recognises students who have performed outstandingly outside of their academic subject and chose to give her prize money for £200 to the Hospice as a thank you for its part in her student training.

Gemma, from Bredbury, Stockport, said: "I'd never been to a hospice before and wasn't sure what to expect. It's a beautiful place, the patients and staff are gorgeous and completely different to the way of life in a hospital.

"It left me with some lovely memories and I wouldn't rule out working at a hospice later in my career.

"It was such an honour to be here and I think all students should spend some time at a hospice as part of their nursing degrees.

"When someone takes their last breath the family, even in the darkest moments, are very grateful. It's not a sad place - it's a happy place. My nine-week placement here changed my outlook on life."

Gemma, who has a 10-year-old daughter Maisie, now works in A&E after she was rushed on to the front line during the final year of studies because of the pandemic.


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