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 Nicola.

Here at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, Nicola is one of #OurHospiceHeroes. Working as a Sister on our Inpatient Unit, she’s been providing critical care to patients and their loved ones during this difficult time – including some who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. So we caught up with her to find out more…

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

I have proudly worked at Birmingham St Mary’s for over 10 years now. I work on our Inpatient Unit, providing care to patients who have a life-limiting illness and supporting their loved ones too.

For me, one of the most important parts of my role is ensuring that care is personalised for each individual. One of the first things I’ll ask a patient is ‘what’s important to you?’. It’s a simple question but it helps us to meet their needs and improve their quality of life.

How has your role changed during this difficult time?

One of the biggest changes is that some of the patients we are caring for have Covid-19, so we’re having to wear PPE both for their safety and the safety of our staff.

Another big change is that, sadly, we’ve had to put some restrictions in place for visitors to the ward. This has been a really tough decision to make but a necessary one as it’s our top priority to make sure our patients and staff are safe and to minimise the risk of infection to others. We know how important it is for families to keep in touch though, so we’re regularly making phone calls and encouraging patients to video call their loved ones. It’s these little things which can make a big, big difference at a time like this.

And of course, as you would expect, with visiting restrictions in place, a lot of patients and their family’s anxieties have been heightened so a big part of my role is reassurance. It’s reassuring the patients that we are here for them no matter what, and it’s reassuring the families that we are taking good care of their loved ones. Sometimes, I will even video call the family myself as I think seeing the nurse who is looking after their loved one, can really help reassure them that they are in good hands.

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

I empathise greatly with the people we’re looking after and their families – these are difficult and uncertain times and it must be very worrying to not be able to see your loved one. That’s why we’re continuing to build strong, professional relationships with patients and their relatives, so that they both feel reassured and as in control as they possibly can be.

Why is hospice care so important?

Our care is so important because we tailor it to meet individual needs. Of course, we’re there to help patients manage any symptoms they may be experiencing but we’re also here to care for their psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing too. We help to improve their quality of life, so that they can continue to enjoy the things that matter most to them.

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

We have an incredible team here at the Hospice. From our housekeepers to our doctors, physios to nurses, we’re all pulling together during this tough time to support our patients and each other.

What’s your go-to quarantine boredom buster?

Spending time with my amazing husband and two beautiful girls, Olivia and Evie. When I’m not working, you’ll usually find me in the garden playing with the girls or reading them bed time stories. I’m also video calling my family a lot, which is helping me to get through this difficult time.

And of course, nothing beats a good boxset! I’ve just finished watching ‘This is Us’ which I loved and would definitely recommend.

And finally…

I would like to thank my incredible colleagues at the Hospice. I am so proud to work for such an amazing team, who continue to care for patients, their families and each other during these difficult times.

I also want to thank the public for your overwhelming generosity during this crisis. Whether you’ve donated food to our frontline workers, made laundry bags so we can safely take our uniforms home, or taken part in a virtual fundraising event – you are allowing us to continue to provide vital care to patients and their families when they need it most, so thank you. It’s inspiring to see the local community come together during these difficult times and support our care and each other.

Our frontline staff – including Nicola – 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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