Celebrating a decade of compassion and love at Solihull's Marie Curie hospice - and many more to come - The Solihull Observer

Celebrating a decade of compassion and love at Solihull's Marie Curie hospice - and many more to come

Solihull Editorial 17th Jun, 2023   0

A DECADE ago Barack Obama was sitting his second presidency term in America, Prince George of Wales was born at St Mary’s Hospital in London, and Solihull’s Marie Curie Hospice was officially opened by King Charles – then the Prince of Wales.

Over the years there have been changes with more patients being looked after at home but the compassion and dedication shown by staff and volunteers at the Marsh Lane hospice remains.

As celebration preparations get under way Observer deputy editor Sarah Mason paid a visit to speak with the staff and volunteers who have been there from the beginning.

For the past decade visitors, patients, staff, volunteers and The Observer team have been greeted with a smile from Linda Falconer, the volunteer receptionist.

She started her role just after the move from the Warwick Road site and although she had a few doubts in the beginning she now feels at home.

Linda said: “I have lived and worked overseas I have done all sorts of jobs this is without a doubt the most satisfying.

“There’s a feeling you might be helping someone so I try to look up and smile at everyone who walks through the door, you don’t know their circumstances and because of what we are it’s not the most pleasant so I try to make conversation light.”

Patients and loved ones are then often cared for by the dedicated nursing staff at the hospice.

Charge nurse Andrew Pearson, who has been with the hospice for 16, spoke about the changes including the impact of the Covid-19.

He said the pandemic had a huge affect not only on the nursing staff but the patients as visitors were not allowed to stop the spread of the virus.

“When it started it was very sad,” Andrew said, “but changes have come in gradually with limited numbers of visitors and an extensive testing regime which over time is gradually relaxing.”

Dr Sarah Wells, the hospice’s medical director said since the pandemic the hospice is seeing patients who have been diagnosed late and have more aggressive diseases.

She added: “We now see people with more complex physical and emotional problems and families who need support.

“We are seeing more non-cancer patients who often have very complex symptoms as well as people who have struggled following poor care in hospitals.”

Each inpatient room looks onto the stunning gardens which has bloomed.

It is looked after by a team of gardener volunteers including Clare Davis, who spend hours digging weeding and planting so it looks its best for patients and their loved ones to enjoy.

Clare said: “The garden can be a delight for those visiting patients as they come out into the garden and often ask us about what we are doing – it provides a bit of release for them.”

The day-to-day running of the hospice lies with facilities manager David Rice.

He played a crucial role in moving staff and patients to Marsh Lane in 2013 and was involved in the early stages of the planning and picked out the artwork displayed around and even had a hand in deciding on the sculpture at the entrance of the hospice.

In his office, which was filled with donated bird boxes at the time, he spoke about how his job is different every day from helping nursing staff to patients and holding onto donations.

David said: “When I first started here I wondered why nurses wanted to work in a hospice and they would say because we want to help a person in their final days and I now know how they feel and I am proud to work for Marie Curie.”


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