Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice shows public what it takes to provide end of life care as Hospice Care Week gets underway.

Eight doctors, 32 nurses who provide care at home, 413 volunteers, nine research projects and 18,396 cups of tea – this is just some of what it takes for Birmingham St Mary’s to provide end of life care for people across Birmingham and Sandwell.

17 shops, 5 adrenaline challenges and one inflatable assault course where runners race for chocolate – and this is just a fraction of what is needed for the Hospice to fund its vital services every year.

Today, Birmingham St Mary’s is taking part in Hospice Care Week (7-13 October) which is a campaign led by national end of life charity, Hospice UK.

This year, the theme ‘This Is What It Takes’ will be highlighting that whilst hospice care is provided free for people with life-limiting conditions and their families, it is not cheap and it takes a lot of skills, people and resources.

The campaign aims to inform the public that hospice care is about much more than medical support, as hospices can provide a wide range of services including: wellbeing therapies such as massages and reflexology; bereavement counselling; befriending; and hospice care at home.  

Hospices also depend on the contribution of many other people, such as: cleaners; cooks; therapists; shop staff; gardeners; as well as countless dedicated volunteers.

Whilst Birmingham St Mary’s receives some funding from the NHS, 64 per cent of the £9m it needs to raise this year will come from voluntary donations. Therefore, the charity relies heavily on the generous support of its local communities, including corporates, donors, and those individuals who take part in fundraising events.

This year, many charitable hospices are facing considerable financial challenges, so the support they receive from the public is more important than ever before.

To educate more people about the wide range of services Birmingham St Mary’s can provide, as well highlight the people behind the care, staff, volunteers and patients have joined together to create a heart-warming and informative video.

Tina Swani, chief executive at Birmingham St Mary’s, said: “Hospices provide an incredible service to people and their loved ones who are living with life-limiting illness. Yet despite this, there are still people across Birmingham and Sandwell who are dying alone, unsupported and with unavoidable symptoms who are just not aware of the difference hospice care can offer them. That’s why, more than ever, we need to educate people about the vital care we can provide and how it could support them to live well with illness.

“This Hospice Care Week, not only do we want to raise the profile of compassionate care at the end of life but we also want to give a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse of the people and resources that deliver it. I’m delighted that staff, volunteers and patients came together to create a video that does just that and I hope it informs people why the Hospice is truly at the heart of our community.

“This year is tougher than ever with such an uncertain economy so it has never been more important for people to support their local hospice. Unfortunately, the NHS funding we receive has not kept pace at all with costs and is now only 36 per cent of our income. We have responded by working collaboratively with our partners across health and social care to innovate and transform services to reach more people. However, more government funding should be available to ensure hospice care is an integral part of every person’s health and care provision.

“I hope Hospice Care Week inspires people to support the Hospice in different ways, whether that’s making a donation, volunteering or helping to spread the word by sharing our video on social media.”

This year, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is celebrating 40 years of care across Birmingham and Sandwell. When the Hospice first opened in 1979, it could care for 25 people on any given day. Four decades later and the Hospice is supporting over 400 people every day, providing care in people’s homes, in the community, at its Day Hospice facility and at the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit.

Watch our Hospice Care Week video here