Right at this moment, our doctors, nurses and frontline staff are working hard to provide urgent care and support during this unprecedented time. People like Dr Becky. 

Here at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, Dr Becky is one of #OurHospiceHeroes. Working as a Specialty Doctor on our Inpatient Unit, she’s providing critical care to patients and their loved ones during this difficult time – including some who have been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Dr Becky is also celebrating her 40th birthday this year. Whilst the pandemic might have affected her birthday plans, she’s still celebrating her big 4-0 by asking for charitable donations to be made to the Hospice instead of receiving gifts. We caught up with Dr Becky to find out more about her role…

Hi Dr Becky, can you tell us about your role at the Hospice?

I’m a Specialty Doctor, working as part of the medical team here at the Hospice. I mostly work on our Inpatient Unit but sometimes, I also support patients who attend our Day Hospice facility or patients who are being cared for at home.

In my role, I help people come to terms with their illness, relieve them of any symptoms they may be experiencing and support them with achieving their goals. Sometimes, it can be heartbreaking but it’s also an immensely rewarding role. It’s a real privilege to care for people and their loved ones at the end of life, and I feel honoured that I can make a difference during this time.

How has your role changed during this difficult time?

As you would expect, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected our services here at the Hospice. Sadly, we’ve had to temporarily suspend all visitors on our Inpatient Unit, including family members and loved ones. It’s been a difficult decision for us to take but it’s critical we do so to protect the safety of all our patients and staff.

What hasn’t changed though, is our compassionate approach to care. Although visiting has been suspended, I am regularly phoning partners and relatives to update them on their loved one’s condition. Myself and the rest of the team are also facilitating video calls between patients and their family. We know it’s not quite the same as seeing someone in person, but being able to see a loved one’s face on a screen can make a big difference during this uncertain time.

How is your role making a difference to people right now?

More than ever, people will need our care and support. Some people have become socially isolated through shielding and therefore can’t rely on family or friends like they used to. Others will have less community support as services are incredibly stretched at the moment. There will also be people who are more poorly with symptoms of Covid-19 and need extra care whilst fighting the virus. And sadly, there will be people who are dying of Covid-19 and will need expert hospice care as they approach the end of life.

This is where we can make a real difference. Our teams are experienced, have expert knowledge and the vital skills needed to care for people with life-limiting illnesses and those at the end of life. Not only will we manage difficult and painful symptoms, but we’re also here to offer practical, spiritual and emotional care too, as well as support families, loved ones and carers.

Why is hospice care so important?

It’s incredibly important because we provide advice and hands on care for anyone with a life-limiting illness. More often than not, people will associate hospices with end of life care but that simply isn’t true; a large portion of our work is helping people to live well with their illness – even during times like this.

Who’s keeping you company when you’re at work?

We are a very close team, so we’re all supporting each other during this difficult time – whether we’re working at the Hospice or at home. It’s important to keep morale up, not only for staff but for the people we’re caring for.

What’s your go-to quarantine boredom buster?

I have three children, so it’s no surprise that they’re keeping me busy outside of work! I’m still trying to exercise regularly and I really enjoy baking and pottering about in the garden.

And finally…

I just want to say a huge thank you to the amazing team at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. I work with some incredible colleagues who have all pulled together during this terrible time to do what matters – care for people when they need it most. I am very proud of their efforts and even more proud to call myself their colleague.

Our frontline staff – including Dr Becky – are #OurHospiceHeroes. They’re doing all they can to provide around-the-clock care on our Inpatient Unit, as well offering critical support in people’s homes, on the phone, and via digital consultations.

And it’s not just our patients who we’re supporting. We’re also working in partnership with local hospitals, GPs, District Nurses, care homes and more to ensure more people get the care they deserve during this uncertain time.

But heartbreakingly, at a time when people desperately need our services, we’re losing out on crucial funds. We’ve had to postpone fundraising events, community activities and corporate partnerships, as well as temporarily close the doors to all 17 of our charity shops. But our care hasn’t stopped.

If you can help more people get the care and support they need, please make a donation or take on a virtual challenge here. Whatever you choose to do, you will be helping someone across Birmingham and Sandwell to receive the support they desperately need during these uncertain times.

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