Home > 1977 - 2017 > On the Blog: Behind-the-scenes at St Columba’s Hospice

In 2017 St Columba’s Hospice marks 40 years since we welcomed our first patients and in turn the four decades that we have been providing care and support to the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians as well as the first-class educational and research programmes for health and social care practitioners.

As part of our year-long programme of new events, activity and insight in to what the Hospice is like, staff from across all the different departments will be sharing a look behind-the-scenes at the Hospice. Each month we will be publishing two blogs from our staff, so you can really get an insight in to how we provide all of our services – from educating health and social care practitioners to keeping our facilities in tip-top condition.

The first blog of the series is from the Hospice’s Patient and Family Support Assistant, Liam. Here Liam shares a little about his role and what he gets up to at the Hospice.

How long have you worked at the Hospice for?

I have worked at St Columba’s for almost three and a half years now. I first joined the Hospice as a bank nursing auxiliary in May 2013 and I was offered a permanent job in the nursing auxiliary team in September 2013. I joined the team whilst the Hospice was at Kirkland’s House (when the new Hospice building was being completed) and I worked on the ground floor ward. In November 2015 I moved jobs to become the Hospice’s Patient and Family Support Assistant.

Tell us about your role at the Hospice

Patient and Family Support Assistant liamThe patient and family support assistant role is fairly new and it combines a mixture of different areas but mostly it’s a mix of coordinating admissions, and patient and family support. When I am arranging and coordinating admissions to the Hospice – this involves attending the daily bed meetings each morning where the team discusses who is being admitted to the Hospice, why they are coming here and when. The most important part of a patient being admitted is for me to welcome them on arrival. In the future, I will also become much more involved when we discharge patients too.

The patient and family support part of my job can mean anything, because support has such a broad meaning. I support patients whilst they stay at the Hospice and this can include accompanying them to external appointments, or taking them from the wards to spend time in our Day Hospice. I also help to show people around the Hospice who are anticipating their future care, if they want to see what we do; or if they are visiting on behalf of their loved ones. My role allows me to be involved in many different projects within the Hospice which is really interesting and makes every day different – this is just a portion of what my job involves!

How does your role help patients and families?

The job of a Patient and Family Support Assistant is quite unique so I’m able to mould it to how I think it best serves our patients and their loved ones. I think the most helpful part of my job is meeting patients on their arrival at the Hospice, because as far as I know there aren’t many places in the healthcare sector that formally greet and welcome patients on arrival. It helps people to feel more at ease and often makes people feel less angst about being admitted. I’ve had feedback from several patients and relatives commenting that having someone welcome them on arrival is important and unique.

I can also support people coming in to visit a loved one by organising transport for them. For example, if the relative is unable to arrange their own transport or cannot manage the transport financially, I may be able to help them set up some transport. Although we can’t do this for everyone, it has helped the most vulnerable of people come in to see their loved one.

“We help our patients and their families make the absolute most of all the time they have.”

What would surprise people about your role as a Patient and Family Support Assistant?

My role involves working with people from all walks of life, it can be extremely varied. At the beginning of last year, a lady came into the Hospice as an inpatient and I organised for her pet cat to go to a temporary foster home until the lady was to be discharged. Sadly the lady died, so I found a new home for her wee cat. Something like that is very unusual and I always get a pleasantly surprised response if it comes up in conversation.

On to something completely opposite, I’m involved in a small music project to bring more music into the Hospice, with two hospice volunteers, Carol and Rosemary. In the latter half of last year we had several musical sessions which were a great success, so we planned a Christmas Music Evening a few days before Christmas and it went down a treat! So we are hoping to continue this project throughout 2017.

What is it like working at the Hospice?

Despite many people’s perception of Hospices, it’s a happy place to work. My colleagues and the volunteers are all so friendly, so for me, it makes the Hospice an inviting place to be. It can be tough working at the Hospice as there are times which are stressful or emotional but with our colleagues, there’s always a listening ear, good steady support and a big hug to get you through the day.

As a Patient and Family Support Assistant, my job allows me to work with almost everyone who works at St Columba’s Hospice and it’s a nice feeling knowing that you actually know your colleagues and you can have a conversation with them face to face. It’s a really lovely place and I am very fortunate to work here.

What do you like doing in your own time?

I like keeping fit, so I go to the gym. I enjoy running and when I had my two dogs I loved taking them for a walk, especially on a nice sunny day. I really enjoy spending time with my close friends, my partner and my two young nieces who are great fun! I’m also known to enjoy a drink or two, my poison is gin or a nice beer!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If anyone is reading this who has a loved one who may be cared for by a Hospice, or if it’s yourself anticipating your care in the near future – Hospices are very different to how they used to be back when the movement of Hospice care started, but we still very much have the same core values at heart. It’s not the case of ‘come in and never leave’, we help our patients and their families make the absolute most of all the time they have.

You can read more of the Hospice’s news here and do check back for the next installment of our On the Blog: Behind-the-scenes at St Columba’s Hospice soon!