July 2020 is Good Care Month – a time to celebrate those who work in the care profession and inspire others to follow. When it comes to palliative care, it is about tailoring care to the individual and listening to their priorities at a difficult time of life.

Asha Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the civil war. After escaping and starting a new life for her children in Tanzania, Asha travelled to England to find work in order to support her family. After a lifetime of taking care of others, Asha came to our Hospice in 2014 with a life-limiting illness. We spoke to Asha about what she values about care and how our Hospice has helped her. 

How the Hospice staff standout

From the first time I came to the Day Centre, the staff at the Hospice have been there for me. They answer all the questions I have, they support me emotionally and no task is ever too big for them. Since COVID the Hospice is the only place that has supported me. If it weren’t for them, during the pandemic, I would probably be in the hospital. Whenever I was low on food the Hospice ambulance team would bring me groceries, and they call me regularly to make sure I am okay. They never leave anyone behind. 

They are like a family

I cannot single out any of the Hospice staff, they are all amazing. From Caroline Ayers to Peter Hume to Sue Hutton, they all talk to you as if they know you and they are so kind. They all work as a team, as a family, and it’s wonderful. When you’re not in a good mood – a good carer will know immediately that you’re not – and you come into the Hospice, they always come up to you and ask why you’re not doing well, and then they keep asking even when I try to hide it. They know more than you think, and they care enough to keep asking. Sometimes I think, how did they know that I wasn’t well today, but it’s because they’re so experienced and they have taken the time to get to know me and learn about me. They get me talking, and then we can solve everything together. 

A key trait a good carer should have

I used to work as a carer so I like to think I know this: you must listen to the patient and get them to talk about what they need. That comes with humility. It’s also about tailoring the care to the individual, something the Hospice excels at. If someone is presented with a problem that is difficult for them to overcome, empathise with that and provide a solution that shows you know their needs. A good carer will phrase things in the way you like to speak. You need to learn how to ask them the right questions. I recently had no hot water at my flat and every time I tried to solve it myself it just didn’t work. When I told the Hospice, they listened and saw what the problem was and fixed it for me. They are helpful in every part of our lives. We feel like we are depending on them so much more than even our families sometimes.

Different kinds of support 

The Hospice staff are always talking to us, when you are not feeling well and you want to cry, they will take you away from everyone else and talk to you and reassure you. We always know the Hospice will find a solution if there is one. That alone is amazing, especially for all of us who live alone. The rest of the week you are on your own, you can’t go out, and so when you come in and talk to them about your problems you really feel heard. 

Hospice in action

I had some issues with my housing early on. The house where I used to live had a private landlord and the contract ended so the council had to put me in a hostel. It was not a nice place to be; especially with how sick I was. When I got here Sue and the social workers fought for me and found me a new place to live. Caroline, one of the Occupational Therapists, came to my new house and gave me a new chair, a walk-in shower and a washing machine. They helped me to get some food and groceries as well. I can sleep knowing that tomorrow I can go to St John’s Hospice and they will help me sort things out. That is the best thing I’ve ever known.

We take great pride in the palliative care we deliver to our patients and their loved ones every day. But in order to maintain our Hospice, we need donations. Click this LINK to see how even the smallest amount can make a big difference. Thank you.