Staff at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice gathered yesterday to mark the 35th Anniversary of the first patient admittance on March 5th 1979.
The idea for establishing a hospice in Birmingham originated at a time when the hospice movement in the UK was in its infancy. In 1974 an NHS matron named Monica Pearce retired from a Birmingham hospital and wanted to use her knowledge of those living with terminal illness to do something to help them.
With the support of Birmingham’s Lord Mayor and Catholic and Anglican Bishops, Monica’s idea to open a hospice in the city was realised, with over £350,000 being raised in order to start work on Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice.
When it opened in 1979, it was the first Independent hospice in the Midlands and only the seventh nationwide. It’s now 35 years later and Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has cared for tens of thousands of patients and families across Birmingham and Sandwell. Founder Monica Pearce spent her own last days at the hospice in 1993 at the age of 91.
The Hospice has a 25-bed Inpatient unit and a Day Hospice with up to 20 places available per day, though the majority of the care offered to people living with terminal illness is done in their own homes thanks to Birmingham St Mary’s Specialist Palliative Care Community team and a new Hospice at Home Service. Additionally, bereavement care is offered through the Family and Carer Support Team.
Chief Executive Tina Swani said: “This year gives us the perfect opportunity to take stock of the last 35 years but also to look forward to the future. Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is very much a part of the community it serves and all of us here see it as a great privilege to be able to do the work we do.
“The big challenge we face for the future is the growing demand for Hospice care both within the Hospice and, in particular, in patients’ own homes. As a result, we are reaching more people by developing our existing services and setting up new ones such as our Hospice at Home team and new Family Centre. It currently costs £7.5 Million per year to run the Hospice and we rely on fundraising and support from the community to raise the majority of that.”
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