On the Blog: Behind-the-Scenes at the Hospice
In the latest edition of our blog series, chaplain Suzie writes about her work at the Hospice.
Our blog series sees staff from across many of the Hospice’s teams write about what life is really like at the Hospice. You can read more blogs from staff here.
How long have you worked at the Hospice for?
I was a chaplaincy volunteer for six years before becoming the Hospic’es chaplain in November 2016.
Tell us about your role at the Hospice
The chaplaincy team (currently me and two exceptional volunteers) is here for everyone, whether you have a faith or not: people in the inpatient unit, those in the community, those who attend day hospice as well as their families and friends and of course, staff and volunteers. We are part of the supportive care team and we do what the title suggests, we offer another layer of support and care. We are here for everyone irrespective of their beliefs, culture or background.
How does your role help patients and families?
For some this will be related to their faith, ensuring that their own minister, priest, Rabbi, Imam etc is aware that they are here if they don’t know already, and we also provide a listening ear and somewhere ‘neutral’ to take concerns. For others who can’t get to church anymore we can bring church to them and it is a great privilege to celebrate communion if someone would like it.
In times of illness and difficulty we often have deep questions that need to be addressed and helping people tease these out as they try to make sense about what is happening is one of the things that we can do. Most often we find ourselves companions on people’s journeys, listening and helping. We work closely with other teams such as physiotherapy, counselling and social work, and together we all try to provide the best support possible.
What would surprise people about your role?
It might surprise people to hear me reading poetry or helping to prepare craft or art work in day hospice to mark the changing times and seasons.
On a practical level I like to find out what makes someone tick, what matters to them, and, along with others members of staff help them to set and achieve goals. This can be something as simple as providing wool and pins to get a knitter knitting again, or finding ways of helping an artist or musician engage with what matters to them. I think it is important to help people retain their interests that are so much part of their identity for as long as they are able to do so, and to have some autonomy at a time when they can feel a bit lost and out of control.
What is it like working at the Hospice?
Great! I feel that I have found my niche at last and having volunteered for so long I had a very good idea of what the role entails. People are what make the Hospice special and the relationships that are created are so important. For me, and the others in the team, coming in to a place where our work is valued and we are supported by, and offer support to, colleagues makes this a very special place to work.
What do you like doing in your own time?
Once a week I play golf (obviously when the weather is warmer), at least that’s the theory, but this year I vow to be on the course more often! I love photography, cooking for family and friends, and art (originally I volunteered to do arts and crafts!). Sadly, I’m an aficionado of all the TV programmes and magazines to do with property, my dad was in the building trade and his passion for creating beautiful living spaces has rubbed off on me.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am also quite good at doing ‘nothing’ – sometimes it is good to take time out and just be still, away from the busy-ness of everyday life.