Monday 10th September 2012
Val Hunkin, one of the first Macmillan nurses in Cornwall, died at her home in the Isle of Skye on 21 March 2011. Her colleague Rosie Hays shares some of her achievements with Mac Voice.
‘Val was instrumental in developing a community based palliative care team in Cornwall, which became one of the largest in the country. The service was formed in 1979 when Val and her nursing colleague Anne de Sausmarez began to provide specialist palliative care to adults with cancer. By the end of the 1980s, the team had grown into a multidisciplinary specialist team covering the county.’
‘A nurse specialising in palliative care was a new concept. As well as support, there was also resistance from nursing and medical professionals. Developing and leading a multi-professional group, largely on their own, in a difficult area of care, was no mean feat. Val worked in a way which developed, supported and valued individuals, and created a close specialist team. She also supported educational programmes, particularly focusing on communication skills training, an area which until then had been neglected.’
‘Val went on to assist the development of palliative care services around the world.’
‘A very human person, Val understood how important it was to never lose sight of the basic skills of listening to people, understanding and caring.’
‘Val worked in a way which developed, supported and valued individuals’
Alison Gaffney, who helped Val to develop and support the service, said, ‘Val made me feel as though I was making a valuable contribution to improving the care of patients and their families. Her influence on my professional and personal life was huge, and I will always remember her with great fondness and respect.’