Vicky Green benefited from one of Hospice UK’s grants and in this interview, she tells us what it means to her and how it has affected her work.
How long have you worked in a hospice or in palliative care?
I have worked permanently in hospice for nearly 2 years, but dabbled in palliative medicine alongside a career in General Practice (a GP) for more than 10 years.
What are you studying as a result of the grant from Hospice UK?
I am currently studying for a post-graduate qualification in cancer palliative care at Newcastle University.
Why did you choose the course and what did you hope to gain from studying?
I have post graduate qualifications in general practice but not palliative medicine and I wanted to broaden and deepen my knowledge base. The university has a good reputation and the course is completely online - distance learning works well with life as a busy wife, mum and doctor.
How did you find out about the grant from Hospice UK?
Google! I googled bursaries and grants in palliative medicine and happened upon the Hospice UK website and found that they offer grants to professionals like me for ongoing career and professional development
What would you say the benefits of you attending the course have been to patients and their families?
I'm a more competent doctor for my studies. I'm more confident and able to provide specialist care to those with especially difficult symptoms. I also have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the barriers to palliative medicine and how we can work to engage with those who don't traditionally engage well with hospice care. I am more able to teach and support junior doctors working alongside me, thus improving care to the patients and their families.
What would you tell anyone thinking about what they could do to support a hospice?
We are all going to die – a fact of life – and with medical advances, most of us will no longer die suddenly from childhood diseases, accidents, childbirth or infectious diseases. Most of us will develop one of the illnesses which will require palliative care.
Hospices provide palliative care services to patients and families of those with advanced cancer but also other life-limiting illnesses - such as advanced heart failure, kidney failure etc. Those services include specialist inpatient care, outpatient care, hospice at home care in the community, emotional and spiritual support, bereavement support, among others.
The two hospices I have worked for (and the vast majority of those in the UK) receive approximately 1/3 of their annual funding from the NHS to provide palliative care services but have to fundraise 2/3 of their annual income.
I would urge you to offer in any way you can - financial support, volunteering, fundraising (wing-walking for charity anyone...?!), improving public awareness of hospice work, to improve the experience of living and dying from terminal illness for such a large proportion of our society.