Having trained as a palliative care nurse, Dallas Pounds was appointed CEO of Royal Trinity Hospice in 2013. She was awarded the 2015 ‘Rising Chief Executive Officer’ at the Third Sector Annual Awards in recognition of her leadership and contribution to hospice work. Here, she tells us how she has been preparing for her talk, why death should be considered part of life and the everyday heroes that inspire her in her job.
How are you preparing for your TEDxWandsworth talk?
I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on the topic and deciding what key messages I want to convey. I’ve read, watched TED talks, made notes, written drafts, talked with colleagues and family and generally reconnected with a subject that is always close to my heart and part of my working life. The title of the day, ‘Truth and Dare’, has been good to work with.
How did you come up with the idea for your talk?
Death and dying is such a broad subject so chatting with Amman [Abid, TEDxWandsworth co-organiser] and others about their perspective was key.
End of life care is still a subject many people don’t want to consider. Why is it important that we think about it?
The truth is that we all die but equally, death feels very theoretical until we are faced with it as a reality. Not daring to talk about it and make plans for this certainty, either for ourselves or someone we are close to, means that so much is left to chance. In turn, this places a great burden on those bereaved, or speaking on behalf of someone without capacity. Coping with the complexities of decision making at a time of huge emotional and physical challenge can adversely affect how we grieve. We need to take back ownership of death, and accept it is a part of living.
What was your path into Palliative Care?
I am a nurse by training and very early on in my career I was drawn to care for those facing death and those close to them. I found it a great privilege to be allowed into someone’s life as it reached its end, and wanted to make a difference to the person dying and those left bereaved. I believe a positive experience of someone dying can be life affirming for the living.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired everyday by the people I work with and those we care for. Everyday someone shows immense courage or love or compassion, has an incredible tale to tell, or overcomes a challenge.
Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, or an introvert?
I guess I’m extrovert because I love being with people, learning from them and sharing with them.
How do you spend your down time?
Down time for me is a mix of busy family and friend activities and quiet walks with my camera, preferable near to water of some sort. I love watching movies, good food and wine.
What one thing would you like to know before you die?
That my children are happy and healthy – and of course that they know my wishes!
What is your favourite TED or TEDx talk?
I have lots I like but I think my favourite is B J Miller, ‘What really matters at the end of life’. He really is inspirational and talks sense for me.
Knowing you are cared about and having people to care about in return.
Interview by Rosy Edwards