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Claire House nurse pays tribute to courageous teenager

2 weeks ago

Claire House nurse pays tribute to courageous teenager
Erin McCulloch. Image provided by Claire House

As International Nurses Day approaches this Sunday, Claire House Children’s Hospice shines a light on its dedicated nursing team, who tirelessly care for seriously ill children and their families.

Among them is Claire House lead nurse Erin McCulloch, whose journey into nursing was profoundly influenced by a courageous teenage girl named Evie.

Erin McCulloch said:

“Walking into the interview at Claire House, I remember thinking, ‘Evie has sent me here to look after other children’. 

“Evie was a special girl. She was a family friend, and my first Rainbow when I became a Rainbow leader. Sadly, Evie was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour and passed away when she was 14. 

“It was so hard losing Evie, so I can understand what our families are going through. Every time I walk past Evie’s picture in the hospice, I think, ‘That’s my girl’, that’s why I’m here’. She was my biggest inspiration.”

Evie’s mum Jo Skerrett, from Prenton, encouraged Erin to apply for a role at Claire House, which provided end-of-life care to her daughter four years ago.

Evie. Image provided by Claire House
Evie. Image provided by Claire House

Initially, Birkenhead nurse Erin, 28, had reservations about working at a children’s hospice but joining the nursing team at Claire House more than two years ago completely changed her mindset. 

Erin added:

“When I tell people I work at Claire House, they assume it’s going to be full of sadness. But it’s such an amazing place and I love how rewarding it is. 

“A lot of our children can’t verbally communicate so when they smile, or when you see them relax in the pool or in a music session, it’s just so special. 

“It can be difficult seeing a child who is in pain, so we try to do things such as hoisting the child on to a beanbag and it is so satisfying seeing the child’s muscle tone relax.

“I’ve always had a desire to care for people. And when my cousin became an adult nurse, I decided to take up children’s nursing.

“At first, I was a little apprehensive, thinking I would lose my clinical skills when I moved from a general children’s ward. Some people may think it’s a bit of a babysitting service or day care, but there’s a lot of different complexities of our children and there’s so many skills that I’ve been able to learn here at Claire House. 

Erin McCulloch. Image provided by Claire House
Erin McCulloch. Image provided by Claire House

“Communication is a big skill that I’ve learnt, and it’s helped me interact with children who can’t communicate as effectively. 

“Clinically, there are tracheostomies, gastrostomies, vents, and it’s all about working together and giving the children and their families the time and compassion they deserve. 

“I feel so proud to work for Claire House. We’re all working together and using different skills to provide the best care to children in their last days and to make memories.

“The kids make you smile and, when I see them smiling, I think, ‘This is why I love my job.

“It may not have been somewhere I’d have considered if it wasn’t for Evie, but I love looking after our children. And I’ve never looked back.”

Keen to give back further, Erin has fundraised for the children’s charity in memory of Evie, raising £1,600 from a Claire House skydive and £700 from two Chester 10Ks.

For more about Claire House click here.

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