Throughout 2017 the Hospice will be marking the four decades that we have been working with our community to provide care and support to patients and families.
As part of our year-long programme of activity to mark our 40th anniversary, we will be publishing a series of staff blog posts that will give you an insight in to what happens behind-the-scenes at the Hospice. The staff blog posts will be written by people from all across the Hospice, with this installment coming from Dr Anna, who is a research fellow at the Hospice.
You can read the rest of the blogs in this series here, including a blog from our patient and family support assistant and a member of our domestic team.
How long have you worked at the Hospice for?
I have been a research fellow at the Hospice since May 2016. Prior to joining I was working in a research capacity with the primary palliative care research group at The University of Edinburgh where I originally carried out my PhD.
Tell us about your role as a research fellow at the Hospice
My role here is to help build the research activity and capacity of the Hospice. St Columba’s Hospice has been forward-thinking in creating this research fellow post as hospices are becoming increasingly aware of the need to be research active. I see research as important for evaluating what we do, for looking for ways to build on what works and what is helpful for patients and families. Research can help to find ways to innovate and improve and to adapt to an ever changing world. Part of my role is being involved in teaching and with some of practice development aspects of the Hospice. This connects me with frontline staff which I really like. Another aspect of my job that I enjoy is carrying out research interviews. I like to listen to people and those that speak to me generally find it helpful to have the space to talk to someone neutral. I can then bring together different perspectives on an issue and look at where people need help or support.
How does your role help patients and families?
My role is rather indirect however, the ultimate aim of the research that we carry out at the Hospice is to improve the care and support for patients and families. That is why we are all here. It may be to look at ways to support people with a variety of different conditions, to help people to live as well as they can through exercise and nutritional support, or to consider how to best support families. I really aim to collaborate with clinical staff where possible and be as helpful to them and their work as I can.
What would surprise people about your role?
The first thing is the usual reaction that I get from people when I say that I work at a hospice is one that I am sure everyone here will recognise. ‘Isn’t that a really depressing place to work?’ It is really not. The people here are all working to help the patients and families which is in fact incredibly motivating, uplifting and life affirming. There is also fun and laughter around which is so important for everyone. The second thing is something that I imagine most people are too polite to say which is that research is dry and boring. In reality, as a research fellow, I don’t spend all of my day at a computer and my research often involves meeting people. I can be out interviewing someone, a patient or a family member for a study or meeting groups of people to collaborate on future projects or doing teaching sessions. My job as a research fellow is really varied as I am involved in lots of different areas on a range of projects.
What is it like working at the Hospice?
The Hospice is a fabulous place to work. I have found it very friendly and welcoming. The environment is lovely and the setting is really special. We have amazing staff here across all areas from direct clinical staff to the domestic team, our volunteers, the education and research team, and those working in fundraising or in a management capacity. Mainly, however, I am always very grateful to be able to do something that will have value to people and to work with others who aim for the same.
What do you like doing in your own time?
Well, I like to be active. I run regularly and do a fair bit of road cycling, although not in the Scottish winter. Walking my dog gets me outside in all weathers as she is a bit on the hyperactive side and would be climbing the walls if she didn’t get well walked. I love dogs so always enjoy meeting the therapets around the Hospice. Finally, but definitely not lastly, I love spending time with my three teenage children who are really great company.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
It is really important to remember that a stay at the Hospice is not a one way street. People can come here for some treatment or support and go home again. Nor is it a place of doom and gloom and I’d encourage people to come to the café, which is open to the public, and just get a feel for the place. The more that we can connect with our surrounding community and bring the outside world in, the better. Finally, to everyone at the Hospice I would like to say thank you for having me and for the warm welcome.