We know that visiting a hospice for the first time can be a daunting experience and you’ll have a whole range of questions about everything from basic logistics to bigger questions about care. The team at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice are always on hand to answer any questions you may have. We’ve also put together a few of the most common questions we get asked about the hospice.
Are there any visiting times for the Hospice?
We do not have any specific visiting times at the Hospice. However we do ask that visitors respect other patients and so overnight when patients are sleeping, noise is kept to a minimum.
Can my relative stay overnight?
Relatives can stay overnight, we have a few ‘pull out’ beds available and have a relatives room too. The relatives room is prioritised daily so speak to the nurse in charge of the shift if required.
How much does it cost to stay at the hospice?
It does not cost anything to stay. The Hospice gets around a third of its funding from the NHS but we are a charity and the majority of our funding comes from the generosity of the public.
I am coming in to get my symptoms controlled, how long do you think I would be in for?
On average patients who come in for symptom control are admitted for a couple of weeks, but everyone is different and plans of care are individualised. You will be reviewed regularly by the medical team and have a named nurse, so please ask them for information about your care if you are not sure.
Am I allowed to go on day leave?
Yes. Please talk this through with your doctor or nurse and they will advise if they think you are well and safe enough for day leave. A family member would need to be able to pick you up from the Hospice and take you out.
Can I bring my pets in?
Yes pets can be brought in but we ask that dogs are kept on leads when going through the Hospice and gardens. If your pet has a more active nature please liaise with the nurse looking after you, so we can make sure that other patients’ needs are respected.
Can my family bring food in for me and can it be heated up?
Family can bring in food for you. We have a microwave which your family are welcome to use to warm the food up for you.
Is there a fridge I can use?
We do have fridges available and we do strive to have one in your room. There is also a communal freezer that we can use to store ice lollies etc. Please label any food stored in the communal fridge/freezer with your name.
Am I allowed to drink alcohol?
We allow alcohol to be consumed in moderate quantities. Alcohol can be brought in by friends/family for you.
Am I guaranteed a single room?
Unfortunately we cannot guarantee a single room. We have a limited number of single rooms and we review them on clinical need. If you are very keen to have a single room please discuss this with the Triage Nurse, Rachel, when a bed is offered and she will be able to update you on the beds available.
I have read about the Family Centre can anyone stay in there?
The Family Centre is a separate unit which is located at the end of the main ward. It consists of a patient room, a relatives room, bathroom, living area and functioning kitchen. As it is not visible from the main ward, we ask that a family member stays with the patient for 24 hours a day. It is sometimes used for patients that are in the last few days of life and will be allocated by staff to the patients most in need of that facility, at any particular time. Please discuss with your nurse looking after you if you would like to utilise the family centre.
Am I allowed to smoke while I am at the Hospice?
Smoking is not permitted in the Hospice premises or grounds, however patients can access the adjacent park. Patients who choose to smoke are asked to sign a disclaimer regarding smoking off-site. Smoking is not permitted in the Hospice vehicles.
What do I need to bring in?
The Triage Nurse will discuss what you need to bring in with you when a bed is offered however a basic list is as follows:
- All medications, including inhalers
- District nursing notes
- Basic toiletries
- Night time clothes
- Day time clothes (if required)
- Small personal items to make your bed space/room more homely
How long do I have to wait for a bed?
Beds are allocated every afternoon with involvement of the Triage Nurse, Medical Team and one of our Community Nurse Specialists. We look at clinical need and prioritise beds on that basis rather than length of time on the waiting list. The average wait is 6 days, however some patients have been admitted quicker and some have waited longer.
I am ready for discharge but need more help at home or I now need a place of care (residential home or nursing home), what happens next?
Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is a short term care facility and we cannot keep patients longer term. We will talk to you to work out what support on discharge you may need. This may be carer support at home or a more permanent place of care (e.g. nursing home). We will then refer you to Social Services and Continuing Health Care for funding towards this care. Sometimes we start these referrals early on in your admission as they can take several weeks to be processed and for assessments to take place. We will not discharge you from the Hospice, without appropriate level of carer support in place, or before a longer term place of care has been organised. Our therapists (occupational therapists and physiotherapists) will also be working with you when preparing for discharge. If there are any questions regarding this your nurse would be more than happy to update you on the process.
Are there doctors at the Hospice?
We have specialist palliative medicine doctors at the Hospice; we have 4 consultants, 2 specialty doctors, 1 registrar and 1 junior doctor. They are on site Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and look after patients in the inpatient unit, day hospice and in the community. There is always a doctor on call overnight and at weekends, who is available to advise the nursing staff and can attend patients in the Hospice if required.
How can I support the work of the Hospice?
The Hospice is very grateful for any donations, which can be made via the Fundraising Team by coming in Monday to Friday 9am-5pm or calling 0121 752 8779.
There are also various fundraising campaigns on our website, just click on I want to support the Hospice in the main menu to find out more.
How can I make a complaint/give feedback?
During your inpatient stay, you or your family will be given a questionnaire that we would be grateful if you could complete as it gives us an indication of your impression of our care and how we can improve. We also welcome feedback in any form. If you wish to complain please speak to the nurse looking after you or your family member and we will endeavour to answer your concerns. If they can not help then there is a formal complaints procedure and the senior nursing team will assist you with this.
What support will my family get from the Hospice?
Here at the Hospice there is a Family and Carer Support Team (FACST) which involves social workers, counsellors, bereavement support workers, spiritual care and children support workers. They are able to help yourself and your family with financial concerns, practical concerns, and to discuss wills. They can also support families with pre-bereavement support and of course post-bereavement support if required. Family members and friends can also be seen separately to their loved one so they can have private discussions if that is preferred. FACST can do visits here at the Hospice or home visits if required.
Is there a café my family can get food/drink from?
Yes there is a café called the Butterfly Lounge where patients and family members can get food and drink from. It is usually open between 10am-7pm and is staffed by volunteers. The catering team also offer a visitors menu and meals can be purchased at the same time as patient meals.