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From student to staff: life as a hospice social worker

26 June 2018

Emily Frost began life at the Hospice as a placement student in the Family and Carer Support Team (FaCST). Fast forward five months and Emily is now working as a part-time member of staff alongside her university studies. Here, she tells us a little more about her role as a Social Worker and why she was keen to stay at Birmingham St Mary’s…  

I’m currently in my second year at University of Birmingham and as part of my ‘Social Work’ degree, I completed a three month work placement to get more hands on experience. Previously, I had worked as a carer and had been involved with end of life care, so I was keen to find out more and build up my knowledge in this specialist area. That’s why I applied to do my student placement at Birmingham St Mary’s – so you can imagine I was absolutely thrilled when I landed the position!

Working as a placement student at the Hospice has been a fantastic experience – not only have I learnt lots of new practical skills but I am now able to apply those skills to the theory side of things at university.

My role sits within the FaCST team, which is made up of 15 members of staff and around 45 volunteers. There are Bereavement Counsellors, Children’s Workers, Spiritual Care Workers, Volunteer Support Workers, a Support at Home team and Social Workers – which is what I do. As a Social Worker, I provide psycho-social support. That means I help protect, safeguard, and promote vulnerable adults’ independence and welfare. But I think we do much more than just that. At the Hospice, we also try to make sure that everyone we care for has a better quality of life.

One of the best bits about this role is that I am able to explore both the practical and emotional sides of social work. Some days, I might be filling out financial applications which will have a huge practical benefit for the people we care for. Other days, I could be engaging with patients and supporting them with any worries or concerns they might have. Both of these elements are incredibly important and it makes sure that we are truly delivering holistic care to all the individuals, family members and carers that the Hospice supports.

The favourite part of my job has to be seeing the positive changes we help bring to people. More often than not, I will notice how much better people seem to be after they’ve received our care and support. I think that’s what makes the Hospice so unique – we support all aspects of care, not just the medical aspect.

Throughout the whole placement, the FaCST team were incredibly supportive and I knew I could count on them if I needed help or had any questions. As I had never done any social work outside of my university studies, I first started with just four cases to look after. But by the end of my placement I ended up with ten.

Being able to work alongside the amazing staff and volunteers here at the Hospice, and to be able to support people at a very important time in their lives, is such a privilege. Hospice care is so precious and I’m so glad that I am a part of it.

Thank you Emily for sharing your story with us. If you would like to find out more about our FaCST team, take a read here.