Lucille Dawson


1. What is your name?

Lucille Dawson

2. Which hospice do you work for?

FWC (Family worship centre) Hospice in Hursthill, Johannesburg.

 3. What do you do there?

I am the Nurse Manager, Clinical Nurse specialist and Nurse Educator- training caregivers.

 4. How long have you been there?

4 months.


1. Why did you decide to focus on palliative care?

Hospice and palliative nursing was not on top of my career list.  One of my friends saw a need at my current workplace and suggested that I should apply for the job. During my career, I have focussed more on trauma nursing, skills training, education and development of nurses.  Though I understood what hospice and palliative care is, for me it was just a depressing job that didn’t offer many responsibilities. Now it gives me great satisfaction to help people living with a terminal illness and everyone affected by their diagnosis. It feels great to be part of the patient’s journey, whether it is the end of life or rehabilitative care, so that they can achieve the best quality of life.

2. What gives you the greatest fulfilment?

Providing care and support to patients and helping the entire family through one of the toughest times they face.  It’s also extraordinarily gratifying to walk this path with patients and their family members. They open their arms to you at one of the most vulnerable times in their life. To know that we can assist the patient and improve their quality of life provides such meaning. I love to be hands-on with all activities in our hospice and to see the patient’s faces lighting up again.  I enjoy to see the difference in their progress they make from admission to date.

 3. What do you find the most challenging?

It’s slightly different to what I’m used to.  I am used to transforming practice environments, to be in the classroom teaching, to increase nurse managers’ job satisfaction and resuscitate patients as needed.  It’s exhausting to be totally present at the bedside for someone facing a life-threatening illness, to see the anguish and distress the patient and their family members are experiencing.  I also find it challenging that the government is not fully assisting/supporting palliative care especially when it comes to innovation and artificial intelligence.  I feel that 21st century palliative care moves very slow in our country and I wish that we could focus on early integration of palliative care with disease management.    Also challenging is the inadequate preparation for facilitating difficult conversations, insufficient compensation for the relational aspects of end-of-life care work as compared to invasive procedures and personal discomfort with dying and death.

4. What do you think people find the most challenging about a life-threatening diagnosis?

How to deal with pain, and the fear of pain, abandonment and depression and ultimately hopelessness.  The level of independence is taken away from them in the process and they feel a loss of dignity.

 5. What do you think that you personally bring to your job that reflects who you are as a person?

I enjoy coming up with creative ideas and finding new angles to challenging projects. I’m also motivated by other people and their reactions to what I have to say. It helps me develop my ideas and offer better solutions. I love being happy and cheerful, patients and staff picks up on that and one can see the change in attitude and emotion.

6. How do you take care of your own health and balance?

I try to live healthily, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep and go for regular medical check-ups. I visit and see friends to build my sense of belonging and I also try to do something I enjoy like watching a favourite TV show or reading a book.  I also find ways to relax, like meditation or getting a massage.

 7. What is your advice to anyone else wishing to join your profession?

Palliative Care encompasses so many conditions in very different ways. Challenge yourself. Explore personal development. The role can be hugely rewarding, but can also be emotionally draining, so ensure you make time for you!  At the end of the day you feel fulfilled knowing that you could bring a change.

 8. What is your advice to anyone given a life-threatening diagnosis?

This must be hard news for the patient or family to share and I normally advise them to get adequate information regarding the diagnoses.  I normally advise them to give themselves time to absorb the news and they must allow themselves to deal with anger, denial, fear, and anxiety which are all normal reactions to bad news.  They have the right to choose care for themselves.  They need to know that there are information, support, assistance and guidance for them throughout the process.

 9. What is your advice to the loved ones of anyone who is given a life-threatening diagnosis?

You can’t predict how family members and other loved ones will react.   The family should realise that the relationship does not change and only the diagnoses that brings a difference in the relationship. They can build on their relationship’s strengths and they should stay open to new possibilities. The diagnosis might improve their relationship.

 10. How do your loved ones feel about the work that you do?

They know that I have the opportunity to help people in their most vulnerable, and unexpected moments so they are very supportive. They also understand that at times it can be very difficult for me, especially when it comes to the dying of a patient, so they give me space and time to be myself – whether crying or just being quiet.

 11. What do you like the most about the hospice that you work with?

I love the organization’s culture and I enjoy working in a team environment.  We all get along well and the communication between us enhances our productivity as a team. The core values align with mine because working for an organization is about a lot more than just the hours you put in each day.  They are very accepting to new ideas and we all work together when change is needed.

 12. Do you have a “motto” that you tend to live by that you would like to share?