To celebrate Hospice Care Week’s ‘We Are Hospice Care’, we want to share some of the amazing stories of our staff, volunteers, and supporters and tell you why they decided to join the hospice movement.

Meet Ashley Burge, who has recently joined our team on a six month placement as part of his GP training. Here, he tells us why he wanted to develop his skills at Birmingham St Mary’s and why meeting skunks has just become part of the day job.

I first joined Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice in August, as a medical officer on the Inpatient Unit. I’m currently undertaking a six month placement as part of my GP training programme and wanted to work here to help develop my skills in hospice care. 

As a medic, I have becoming increasingly aware of the importance of having specialist palliative care knowledge and experience. There are too many individuals dying alone, unsupported or with avoidable symptoms, completely unaware of the difference hospice care may offer them. That’s why I wanted to expand my understanding in this area – so that I can help even more people living with a terminal illness.

I had heard fantastic things about Birmingham St Mary’s which is why I wanted to initially train here. Since joining, my role has been incredibly varied but my number one priority always remains the same – to provide the best care to our individuals and families on our Inpatient Unit. This can involve a number of things, from providing physical, psychological and social support, to liaising with health care professionals in other clinical settings to assist with ongoing care once a person has been discharged.

One of the slightly more unusual aspects to my role was meeting Matilda, a skunk. It’s not every day that you get to meet some weird and wonderful animals at work but it turns out that Matilda is part of the Hospice’s animal therapy service. It may sound strange but animal therapy can have a brilliant impact on our patients, helping to provoke positive engagement.

Although I’ve only worked at the Hospice for a short amount of time, it’s very apparent that the individual and their family is at the centre of everything we do. There’s a great atmosphere here and everyone is committed to achieving the same goal – to enable people living with terminal illness to live their lives to the fullest. That’s definitely the best part of my role – spending time with our individuals and their relatives, hearing their unique stories and finding out how we can work together to make a difference. 

Since working at Birmingham St Mary’s, I have found delivering hospice care to be enormously rewarding. I’ve met some fantastic people here and hope to continue to deliver this crucial service as a GP once I have finished my training.

Hospice Care Week is a national week of activity which aims to raise the profile of hospice care across the UK. This year’s theme, ‘We Are Hospice Care’, is an opportunity to celebrate the many faces behind a hospice, honouring their dedication and passion.

If, like Ashely, you would like to join our movement and help positively impact the lives of local families living with terminal illness, why take a look and see how you can join our team