Katrina Morris has been a Registered Nurse for three years and was sponsored by Tŷ Hafan to study for her nursing degree. 

“It’s thanks to Tŷ Hafan that I was able to study for my nursing degree,” says Kat, whose previous role was working as a personal assistant to a child with additional needs in Swansea. “Because Tŷ Hafan sponsored me I didn’t have to pay any university fees and I was employed by the hospice throughout.

“Without this support I would not have been able to study for my degree and qualify as a Registered Nurse.”

After moving from Swansea to Cardiff in 2015, Kat’s first role at Tŷ Hafan was as a Health Care Support Worker (HCSW).

“I loved being a HCSW and did that job for three years,” she says, “but when the opportunity came up for me to study for a nursing degree at Cardiff University while still working for Tŷ Hafan, I jumped at it.”

Kat started studying for her degree in the autumn of 2018.

“It was great,” she says. “I was still employed by Tŷ Hafan and paid by Tŷ Hafan while I was studying. All I was asked to do in return was to work one shift a month as a HCSW, while I studied, and to work during the 15 weeks of holidays that students get.”

Her second year was markedly different though, due to the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, which affected everything.

“During the second year of my degree, third year nursing students at Cardiff University were being deployed as HCSWs, such was the intense pressure on existing Registered Nurses.

“Then, quite quickly, such were the demands on nurses everywhere, that second year nursing students were then asked to do this also. I was already employed at Tŷ Hafan  as a HCSW so for the 2020 academic year I returned to Tŷ Hafan and worked there full time as a HCSW again.

“Then in my third year I went back to studying full time, while working one shift a month for Tŷ Hafan  and holiday shifts. Despite the disruption of the pandemic in the middle of my degree I was able to graduate as a Registered Nurse in 2021.”

Kat says that there is no such thing as a typical day as a Registered Nurse working for Tŷ Hafan.

“It all depends what child you are looking after,” she says. “You could be doing their personal care and administering their medications, all the clinical side of things, but on top of that you will be spending some time playing with the child, doing arts and crafts. Tŷ Hafan’s care is holistic, so it’s far from just being about the clinical side of things, and that includes helping to look after the child’s family too.

“You get much more time to build a relationship with a child and their family than you would do if you were working in a hospital.

“When I was studying I was seconded to different places and I knew that I wanted to come back here.

“Hospitals are a different environment to Tŷ Hafan. For a start you are working within certain time constraints as you will never just have one child that you are looking after, unless you are on an intensive care unit.”

Kat says that she feels it is a privilege to be able to support children and their families during their last days.

“When a child is dying it’s not about us,” she says. It’s about the families and the children. It’s about making the most of the time that they have. It is a real privilege to be in that position. Although it’s hard for us, I can’t imagine what the people you are caring for are going through and what these children are going through.

“For a child at Tŷ Hafan It’s about giving them the best quality of life and making special memories for them and their families.”

As a fully qualified Registered Nurse Kat now works shifts.

“I do either three days a week, 7am to 7pm or three nights a week, 7pm to 7am,” she says. “And if I ever need to change my shift the Lead Nurses are very supportive.”

As part of the sponsorship agreement, Kat was contracted to work as a Registered Nurse for Tŷ Hafan for three years after she qualified.

“I will have completed my three years post-degree in August of this year. But, while I could go to another job after that, I plan to stay. There’s nowhere else I would like to go,” she says.

“While I was working as a personal assistant I would come to the hospice and it looked amazing.

“Also, while I loved being a PA, you are own your own and I wanted to work as part of a team. Plus I wanted to have the opportunity to progress which Tŷ Hafan offered me.

“When I started to work here it is exactly like working as a PA, but you have so much support around you. Tŷ Hafan’s Care team are the best! Plus you have the surroundings and the resources to do things.

“At the interview I was so nervous – then I looked out the window and saw one of the HCSWs going down the hill on a scooter with one of the kids following her and I knew I would be exactly like that and that’s why I wanted to work here.”

Kat cites the chance to progress as ‘a massive factor’ in her decision to leave her job as a PA and start working for Tŷ Hafan  in 2015 as a HCSW.

“Being around the nurses and seeing the incredible work they do was really inspiring to me,” she says. “And now I am working with them. All of the nurses are amazing – they always go above and beyond.

“The children we look after might be unwell, but at the end of the day each one of them is still a kid. You see past the illness and the disability – and you work as hard as you can to making some normalcy in that crazy hectic world that they’ve got going on.”

The beautiful, peaceful grounds in which the hospice is situated overlooking the Severn Estuary play a key role in the intense job satisfaction Kat says she enjoys nursing at Tŷ Hafan.

“The setting of Tŷ Hafan is a particular highlight,” she says. “When it’s a difficult time, I can go outside, walk around, and take a pause. And the same when it’s a good time. It is so beautiful, so private and so peaceful. It all helps so much and where else would I be able to do this?

“Of course, you have your tough times. Some of my toughest moments to date were when I first qualified, that’s for sure. There was a lot more responsibility. But I think it was just about time and building my confidence up.

“At Tŷ Hafan the training opportunities are good and the support is huge. If I am stuck on anything I just ask.

“Plus the emotional support from your colleagues and everyone around you, is huge. I don’t go into my work worried because I know I’ve got the support.”

Kat says that she would encourage anyone interested in exploring a nursing career to come to Tŷ Hafan .

“Sometimes the students that come to visit us are a bit worried at first. They say that they think that because it’s a hospice it’s going to be all doom and gloom. But really quickly they all then say, ‘Wow! I did not expect it to be like this.’

“The service that we provide is nurse-led and without nurses there would be no Tŷ Hafan so of course, we always need nurses.

“To anyone considering a nursing career here, whatever stage you are at in your own care journey, I would say to them: ‘Do it!’”

Click here to find out more about nursing opportunities at Tŷ Hafan.

Click here to read our interview with Deputy Lead Nurse Emma Williams.

Click here to read our news story on International Nurses Day 2024.

Pictured below, Kat and colleague take Caleb on a trip to the beach.

Kat Morris and Caleb at the beach