For Hospice Care Week this year, we’re sharing the amazing stories behind ‘What It Takes’ to deliver our vital services, as well as ‘What It Gives’ to the people who use them. 

In this blog, we talk to our catering team and find how food plays a vital role in supporting people to live well, as well as Donna whose dad’s last meal was his favourite – green jelly and ice cream.  

Lauren’s story

“Hi, my name’s Lauren and I’ve worked at the Hospice for 16 years now – in fact, it was the very first job I got since leaving school!

I work in the kitchen where I help prepare and cook meals for patients, their families, staff and volunteers. We mainly serve classic home-cooked meals like cottage pie, fish ‘n’ chips, curries and a delicious roast on a Sunday. But if someone doesn’t fancy our daily menu, we’ll always do our best to accommodate their needs. That’s because we know how important eating and food is to people.

I love my job and one of the things I like most about it is when I get to take the trolley of food to patients and their loved ones. I love talking so it’s a really nice opportunity to just chat to people. Sometimes, patients and their families like to have a proper sit down meal in our conservatory which I think is lovely to see.

The Hospice is such a caring place. We care for patients and relatives alike – so that’s everyone from the smallest child to an old man living on his own. Even 16 years later, I still love my job and will continue to love working here!”

Donna’s story

“My dad spent his final two years using the services of Birmingham St Mary’s and I still can’t believe the difference it made to him. He made new friends and created some wonderful memories but the biggest difference was that he was able to focus less on his illness and more on living the life he had left to the full.

At first, my dad just used the Day Hospice service, visiting the Hospice once a week for support. The nurses, physiotherapists and volunteers were, in a word, amazing – they treated him like an absolute king!

As well as the Day Hospice, dad would sometimes spend a couple of weeks on the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit too. He really enjoyed spending time there – in fact, he used to describe it as “going on his jollys”! I think he liked it so much because he knew he was in good hands and was being well looked after – it made him feel safe and comfortable.

When my dad passed away in August 2012, it was one of the most upsetting and heart-breaking days of my life. The night before he died, the lovely cooks at the Hospice brought him a bowl of green jelly and ice cream – his favourite. His face perked up as soon as he saw it and I couldn’t help but smile because even then, I knew that my dad was still living, even right up to the very last moments of his life.

To me, that’s what makes Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice so special – they are here to help people to live. The focus never seemed to be solely on my dad’s illness but instead, it was about making sure he could still enjoy himself and do the things he loved. In those last years, it was wonderful to see that despite everything going on, my dad was still smiling.”  

Hospice Care Week is a national campaign which aims to raise the profile of hospice care across the UK. This year’s theme, ‘This Is What It Takes’, celebrates the amazing supporters, volunteers and members of staff who provide vital hospice care to people and their loved ones when it’s needed most.