The patient and their loved ones are the driving force at the centre of our holistic approach
I am a ‘junior doctor’ and more recently, I decided to pursue a career in General Practice (GP). Part of the training process for this has allowed me the pleasure of spending 6-months at St Francis Hospice.
I spend the majority of my day on the ward where I see people with a large variety of illnesses and complex needs who need specialist input and support.
These needs are not necessarily physical (such as pain, breathlessness, nausea), but can also be psychological, emotional, or social.
The beauty of working here is that there is a dedicated team of healthcare professionals from a kaleidoscope of backgrounds.
The patient and their loved ones are the driving force at the centre of this holistic approach, and ultimately we try as a team to facilitate things that are most important to them.
This could be anything from resolving severe back pain so they can go back to remodelling electric guitars and playing blues music, or providing relief from frightening hallucinations so they can have meaningful conversations with their family.
However, there have been unprecedented challenges over the last year, courtesy of a global pandemic.
Saint Francis has been extremely lucky to maintain the majority of its clinical services so far; not in the least due to a fabulous community spirit that has kept our various divisions running through unfailing charity, selfless volunteering, and a fantastic group of colleagues with an incredible work ethic.
Having witnessed the serene environment and the priceless work that is done here first-hand, I am also particularly passionate about widening access and busting myths surrounding hospices and Palliative Care.
Some of these issues are rooted in culture. For instance, I was born in India and grew up in Hong Kong where the concept of hospices do not exist, and only really discovered places like St Francis after hopping over to this side of the pond.
Similar misperceptions may very possibly exist for a lot of people that make up the diverse demographic that St Francis covers.
However, I cannot stress enough that St Francis will always welcome people from all walks of life - irrespective of culture, ethnicity, religious affiliations, or socioeconomic status.
Other issues are more historical; such as the belief that patients come to a hospice to die and will never leave.
This could not be further from the truth. The medical landscape is forever changing, and with an almost exponential growth in technologies and knowledge, many diagnoses previously considered terminal have now morphed into chronic illnesses that people sometimes live with for many years or decades.
Palliative Care ensures that patients and their families are supported through their illnesses with individualised holistic care and proactive future planning so that these years are filled with comfort and meaning.