Sophie Thomas applied for a position at the Paul Sartori Foundation, a Pembrokeshire based end of life care provider, nearly 12 years ago. She applied for a part time post and she was only ever planning on staying in position for 3 years. So much to her surprise, having only held jobs for 3 years or so, Sophie became full time after 4 weeks and stayed for nearly 12 years!
Sophie’s post progressed to Clinical Development Manager at Paul Sartori – she stayed longer than she thought as she realised the potential for the development of the service aimed at people living with a life limiting illness in Pembrokeshire. Sophie recognised a demand for the service and ways the service could be developed to improve patient care and this gave Sophie a reason to stay for so long.
Nursing has always been close to Sophie’s heart – she moved from London to Pembrokeshire to be closer to family and to continue to work in her preferred profession. In London, she held several nursing and general management positions and during her 50th birthday in April 2006 she moved and two weeks later started her job at Paul Sartori.
Sophie has seen many changes at Paul Sartori – the charity when she started had 4 community nursing patients and a small counselling and complementary therapy service, and most of the other services offered today were not available at all. In that first year, 275 used PSF services. Four charity shops, general donations, in-memoriams and legacies were relied upon for keeping the service going and they had a small team based in the office plus a nursing team.
Now of course, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home has a very different story to tell with nearly 40 full time equivalent staff, including a dedicated income generation team with 10 shops, a Warehouse and Distribution Centre and a Community Fundraiser – all supporting the 8 core services offered in the community – home nursing care, equipment loan, complementary therapy, bereavement and counselling support, clinical nurse specialist in palliative care, physiotherapy, advance care planning and training. In the 2016/17 Paul Sartori Clinical Report, 1026 people used those services.
Although Sophie is officially retiring, it is her wish to carry on helping Paul Sartori and she will continue to manage the Advance Care Planning service on a voluntary basis, at least until the summer. She is passionate about this service and said, “This is the single most important thing you can do to ensure you have got good social and healthcare throughout your life – not just at the end. It gives proper weight to your personal wishes and your preferences; helps you get the care you want and avoid the care you don’t want!”
Sophie is looking at her retirement plan with a Masters in Medical Ethics and Law (with a concentration and focus on Advance Care Planning) at the top of the list. Along with a desire to travel and visit her favourite countries of France and Spain. “I would eventually like to retire to Spain,” added Sophie.
Another aspiration is to improve her Welsh reading skills. Sophie’s great grandfather was a respected Minster in Fishguard and published 2 books in Welsh which she would like to read. She would also like to read a book by ‘Cranogwen’, again written in Welsh, about the West Wales tradition of women going to sea and running sailing schools. Sophie herself is interested in sailing – having previously worked as crew on ocean racing yachts.
“Paul Sartori provides an unusually wide range of services and a very high level of input; very few parts of the UK have such good hospice at homes services. It is fantastic that the people of Pembrokeshire donate so generously to support this. It is such a privilege to work for such an organisation that is so well-supported locally,” said Sophie.
“I have known Sophie for 6 years during my time at Paul Sartori and I can honestly say that it has been a pleasure and a delight to work with such a dedicated individual in the clinical domain at Paul Sartori. As previously mentioned Sophie has steered the clinical team through many challenges over the years and I would like to say a personal thank you to the “Matron” for this. I would like to wish Sophie all the best for her retirement and thank her for agreeing to assist us within a volunteer capacity,” commented Phil Thompson MBE, Chairman.
The whole team at Paul Sartori wish Sophie well and are holding a special event on Wednesday 14th February from 12 noon until 2pm at Paul Sartori House Winch Lane Haverfordwest to thank her for all her hard work throughout her career at Paul Sartori. Anybody who knows Sophie is welcome to attend and they are asked to phone the office and ask for Ceri.
The Paul Sartori Hospice at Home Service provides a range of services to people living in the final stages of a life limiting illness. The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home Service enable people in the later stages of any life limiting illness to be cared for at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear.
Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.