While the hands-on medical care St Luke’s provides is outstanding, our holistic approach means we’re also there to give patients and their loved ones unwavering practical, emotional and spiritual support, too.

Providing this is our Social Care team, reaching out to people across the community in the midst of very challenging circumstances. Among the team for the past ten years has been Social Care and Bereavement Support Worker Janet Hearl, so as she left to start her retirement earlier this month, it was with immense gratitude for her contribution that we said farewell.

Before Janet left, she took the time to give us an insight into her role over her decade with our charity.

She said: “Before coming here I had many jobs, including Bed Manager at Derriford Hospital, but I always wanted to join St Luke’s.

“I began by working alongside a social worker and my role evolved as I gained experience in lots of different situations, because no two patients or families are the same. There’s so much variety to what we do.

“Naturally, it’s devastating for someone whose time is running short, and very challenging for their family, too. It’s about coming alongside them, being that empathic yet ‘neutral’ person they can be open with and express raw emotion. I’ve been there to listen and provide a reassuring presence that can make things that little bit easier, especially as there are sometimes complex family issues involved.

“It’s practical help, too, because at such times things can easily feel overwhelming. I’ve given advice and support to help patients get their affairs in order, which brings them increased peace of mind. Sometimes families need assistance with sorting out financial issues, and often with funeral arrangements as well.

“It isn’t about ‘solving’ problems,but being there for them at a very difficult time and, when appropriate, signposting them to other organisations who can help.

“It’s very rewarding and I’ve loved being part of a multidisciplinary team. There’s a wealth of experience between us, and I’ve enjoyed working closely with our nurses, OTs and physio – we all support each other. It’s those relationships, as well as memories of patients and families, that will stay in my heart.”

As Janet retires to spend more time with family, travel and continue volunteering with Jeremiah’s Journey, the legacy she leaves is the many families she’s helped and also the knowledge and experience she has imparted to colleagues.

We wish Janet a long and happy retirement.