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 Sam.   

Here at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, Sam is one of #OurHospiceHeroes. As a Children’s Worker, she’s helping children and young people to learn to cope with grief through therapeutic activities, role play, mindfulness and more. We caught up with her to find out more…

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

Myself and my colleague Sally offer emotional support to children and young adults who are having to deal with someone close to them being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, or who are sadly having to deal with the death of a loved one.

I work closely with children one-to-one and together, we’ll use therapeutic activities, art, role play, mindfulness – anything really – to help the child make sense of the sadness that is happening to them, and to help support them in finding ways to cope with grief.

Sally and I also facilitate peer support groups. Group support can be a very powerful and comforting way for children to work together, as they often find strength in one another. More importantly, it helps them realise that they are not alone in experiencing these scary and confusing feelings.

In fact, Sally and I are planning to facilitate more groups in the future which will support children from the wider community. In light of Covid-19 and the impact it could have on so many children, we feel this will be a vital service once up and running.

How has your role changed during this difficult time?

Obviously, my role has changed quite dramatically as I normally provide face-to-face support with children – whether that’s at the hospice, at school or at the home. Of course, due to social distancing, we’ve had to stop this for the time being but we are finding creative ways to continue our service the best way we can.

We have sent letters to all our clients with supportive information and ways of reducing anxieties around Covid-19; we are calling parents and guardians individually to touch base and offer support and advice; and we’re also offering video WhatsApp calls or phone calls if our clients need support. It’s important that children know that we are still here for them and they can access our support should they need it.

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

By letting people know that we’re still here and offering support, we hope that it will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety at this particularly scary time. I think it’s important to let families know that we haven’t ‘forgotten’ about them – we’re still here to offer a listening ear and reassurance, hopefully helping them to feel less isolated, worried or distressed.

Why is hospice care so important?

The Hospice offers so much care and support to so many people, in so many different ways! It’s an absolute lifeline to patients and their families who are living with life-limiting illness, and who are going through a lot of pain, anguish and uncertainty. The emotional and practical support we are able to offer is invaluable.

I love working with such dedicated, compassionate and hard-working people, who always go that extra mile to make a difference.

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

I live with my husband, my 10-year-old daughter, and a crazy cocker spaniel called Betty! Like everyone, aspects of lockdown are tough – especially not being able to see my other two older daughters and grandchild – but there are some aspects I’m really enjoying. I like spending quality time with my husband and youngest daughter, making the most of our dog walks, playing board games, and actually talking to each other and not watching TV!

What’s your go-to quarantine boredom buster?

I am really lucky that I come from a huge family, so every Saturday night we meet up on Zoom and we take it in turns to host a quiz. It’s a good giggle and lasts most of the evening.

We have also baked a lot and because the weather has been so beautiful, we have spent a lot of time in the garden.

And finally…

I feel so proud and privileged to be part of the team here at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and I can’t wait until I can see all my lovely colleagues again!

Our frontline staff – including Sam – 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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