FOR many working in the medical profession, the satisfaction of saving lives makes up for the unsociable hours.

The team working on the ward at Sobell House Hospice, however, have a different goal.

Patients supported by the Headington hospice have generally been diagnosed with terminal illness, and are there to receive palliative care: the treatment and management of symptoms.

The cause of their pain is incurable, but specially-trained staff at Sobell are on a mission to make patients' conditions as comfortable as possible.

Staff nurse Katy Wild, who has worked at the hospice for a year, said it is a 'privilege' to be present in the final stage of people's lives.

The Binsey resident said: "Someone might have lived for 90 years and here you are, right at the end.

"You might be the last person who speaks to them or looks after them.

"We give specialist palliative care: we are not treating things unless it's causing pain or discomfort.

"We try to get rid of pain, nausea and anxiety."

As well as medical assistance, nurses are also responsible for providing personal care such as washing patients.

Ms Wild admitted it can be difficult to see people deteriorate on a daily basis, but noted how the support of colleagues keeps staff in good spirits.

The 28-year-old said: "The toughest part is seeing families in their worst situation.

"We are a very close-knit team of nurses – you might not find they are as close anywhere else. We do laugh a lot and work well together."

Her colleague Jasmine Cammas, who also joined as a staff nurse one year ago, said the hospice made her 'appreciate life more'.

The 23-year-old, who commutes from Buckingham, said: "It's sad, but you remember that everyone dies. I think it's reassuring, that we are trying to make death nicer."

Ms Wild added: "It makes me less scared. You just go to sleep.

"Usually they are at peace and you know they weren't in pain."

The pair agreed there is a misconception about hospices being depressing places, or somewhere just for old people.

Ms Wild said: "Whenever I say to people I work in a hospice, a lot of people say 'why do you want to work somewhere people do to die?'

"People are always surprised that people are really happy here; it's not their expectation."

Miss Cammas added: "Today, one of my patients said she liked the sound of everyone laughing all the time."