Trailblazer Ray Retires After Decades In Palliative Care

3rd April 2024
Ray Elder with this retirement cake

After many decades of dedicated service, South Eastern Trust Strategic Lead in Palliative Care, Ray Elder has retired, marking the end of an illustrious career in Health and Social Care.

Under Ray’s leadership, the Trust has become a trailblazer in Palliative Care. Ray’s commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration led to the establishment of the first fully integrated multi-professional palliative care service in the UK, encompassing Doctors, Nurses, Allied Health Professionals, Social Workers and Pharmacists.

Ray began his journey in Social Work at the University of Ulster in 1989 and during his final year of study, he worked the dawn and twilight shifts as a Nursing Auxiliary in the Care of the Elderly Unit at the Ulster Hospital.

Following his graduation, Ray embarked on his professional career, initially joining the mental health sector at Lisburn Health Centre. He then transitioned to Family and Child Care, spending two years at Colin Family Centre, where he developed skills in systemic thinking under the mentorship of Tom Ward.

In 1993, Ray began working with the Northern Ireland Probation Service, providing support to offenders and their families. However, it was a holiday encounter that led to his longstanding career within Health and Social Care. Intrigued by a job ad, offering a chance, to be part of a pioneering multi-professional team establishing a new renal service at Antrim Hospital, Ray seized the opportunity and never looked back!

Over the years, Ray’s commitment to professional development saw him achieve his Advanced Award in Social Work in 2007. In 2000, he returned to the Ulster Hospital as a Social Worker, completing a full circle in his career journey.

Reflecting on his retirement, Ray expressed gratitude for the opportunities and experiences throughout his career, emphasising the privilege of serving patients and families during their most vulnerable moments.

Wishing Ray well on his retirement, Assistant Director of Medicine and Cancer Services, Mary-Jo Thompson said, “So many people have benefitted from Ray’s vision, dedication and commitment to Palliative Care. He has been a pioneer in developing multi-disciplinary collaboration in this field of work. We are forever grateful for his compassion and excellence in this complex area. Ray deserves a very long and happy retirement. Thank you for everything.”