A coffee with Marie

We recently welcomed Marie to our hospice as our new Social Work and Bereavement Team Lead. We sat down with her over a cup of coffee to ask about her first few months and why she chose to join the St John’s community.

You recently joined us at St John’s, what was it that motivated you to apply for the position?

I have been working in palliative care for over 10 years now. Other than the fact that I was keen to work in a well-known hospice in London, I wanted to take the next step in my career, leading a team to help make an even greater impact on patients and their families throughout the community.

What care does your team provide at the hospice and how do you support our patients and their loved ones?

Our team supports patients and their loved ones across the entire hospice, working closely with many of our other services. We provide support at home, in the Inpatient and Day Care Unit and out in the community. This also includes workshops in local schools to raise awareness around palliative care as well as how to support people accordingly.

We provide bereavement counselling to the whole family, which is what makes us unique as we are the only London hospice that can do this, with a dedicated team member who supports children and young people. We arrange activities and group outings for bereaved children, like our recent activity day at Lord’s Cricket Ground or our theatre outing to the West End, which are great opportunities for the children to meet others who are of similar age and who also have shared experiences.

Our social workers can also provide basic advice on benefits, housing, and travel. We can signpost to external agencies if needed and make sure that our patients and their families are aware of all the different support and services available to them in the wider community.

Our team of social workers provide practical and emotional support to our patients and their loved ones.

People may think that a hospice is a sad and depressing place to work, what would you say to that?

I would say that the idea that a hospice is a sad and depressing place to be, or work is a misconception, and a stigma that is attached to hospice care, as that is absolutely not the case. Working with people at the end of their life is a true privilege. Many people will only open up at the end stages of their life and many of our patients and their families share very private information with us and may ask for help, that they have never asked for from someone before. Their trust in us is exceptional and we try our best to ensure they feel wholly empowered and listened to.

We also encourage patients, to come and pay us a quick visit, especially to our Inpatient Unit, to realise that it is not a depressing place to be at all. There is a lot of life and laughter here at St John’s and our role is to care, support and maximise quality of life.

St John's Hospice works in partnership with local schools to raise awareness around palliative care as well as how to support people.

What is the part of your job that you love the most?

When people say that they have been listened to and feel well supported in their journey. That makes me feel very proud and also know that my team and I have done a good job.

To find out more about our social work and bereavement support services, visit www.stjohnshospice.org.uk/our-care.

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