Nurse retires after bringing two decades of fun to Francis House

Picture: Dawn Geddes at Francis House

Submitted by Karen Flower

A nurse at Francis House Children’s Hospice has retired after more than two decades on the care team.

Dawn Geddes, 55, wanted to be a nurse from the age of 11 and in a career spanning 37 years she joined Francis House in Didsbury, Manchester.

The hospice environment gave Dawn, from Withington, the time to deliver holistic care to the standard that she wanted, and have fun with the children.

Dawn Geddes on her first day as a qualified nurse 

She said: “The luxury of Francis House, is that you spend time with the families and really get to know them, finding out what makes them tick and what it is that they need from you.

“As well as taking care of the children’s clinical needs I got to do all the playing and making their lives happier.

“I’ve always had that willingness to be daft occasionally. I liked being silly with the kids, a lot of them don’t have much to laugh at so if I could bring that into the mix then I went for it and I didn’t care what I looked like.

“Having been at Francis House for so long, there are families that I have known since the child was a toddler to entering their teenage years.

“As they reach their end of life there is a sadness there for me, but there are also a lot of memories that I shared with the families, to remind them of the good times and not just the sad times that they are going through.”

Dawn in PPE at Francis House 

The coronavirus pandemic brought its own challenges including how to bring fun into the lives of the children when the cinema and multi-sensory rooms, the hydrotherapy pool and soft play areas were all out of bounds.

Dawn added: “We had to be a bit more creative. I had foil trays with rice and pasta in to make shakers, used upturned washing up bowls as drums or turned them into paddling pools, splashing, and having really good fun.

“I did discover however that you cannot blow bubbles when you have got a surgical face mask on! Although it did still make the child laugh even if it didn’t work as intended.

“It hasn’t been particularly easy working in the theatre gowns and the visors in full PPE, but I think the hardest thing with lockdown for me is that I would have liked to have said ta-ra to quite a few of the families that I have known for a long time and the kids that have grown up with me.

“I have not had that opportunity to do that and that is a bit sad.”

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David Ireland, chief executive of Francis House said: “Dawn really understood and lived the Francis House philosophy ethos and put the families at the centre of everything she did.

“Even through the pandemic Dawn has shown true professionalism and she will be a very difficult person to replace.”

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