Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice – which provides vital care to individuals and families living with terminal illness – has launched its ‘Support at Home’ initiative this week to make hospice care more accessible to those living in Birmingham and Sandwell.

Funded by a number of charitable trusts, the new service will be volunteer-led and will offer practical, social and emotional support to individuals, their families, loved ones and carers.

The service will see trained volunteers visit individuals in their own homes to offer friendly companionship and a listening ear, as well as help them attend GP visits, support with correspondence and assist in finding services that could provide additional aid. It will also offer family members and carers support, allowing them to take a break for a few hours a week.

Support at Home has been designed as part of Birmingham St Mary’s innovative ‘Hospice Care For All’ strategy, which aims to reach more people than ever by delivering end of life care in any setting. The four-year strategy launched last year and was backed by Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, who described it as setting a “clear route map that other hospices across the country can take”. 

Debbie Talbot, medical director at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “We are committed to creating a future where the best experience of living is available to everyone leading up to and at the end of life – that includes individuals, their families, loved ones and carers.

“That’s why we’re introducing our new service, Support at Home, which will provide vital assistance to individuals. We also know that family members and carers are incredibly dedicated when it comes to looking after loved ones and so it is essential that they too receive support so they can carry on caring – even if it’s just having a few hours a week to relax, see friends or catch up on errands.

“With thanks to our fantastic team of trained volunteers, we know that that this new service will significantly improve the experience of living with terminal illness for many local families across Birmingham and Sandwell.”

Ho Leung, a volunteer in the Support at Home team, said: “With my previous experience as a GP looking after patients with terminal illnesses, I recognise that there is a big gap in home support and spiritual care for people and their loved ones.

“I am very proud to be one of the first volunteers to join the Support at Home team and I look forward to providing much needed support to individuals and families in their own homes.

Support at Home has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Edward and Dorothy Cadbury Trust and William A Cadbury Charitable Trust. To find out more about the service, visit here.