Published on: Monday 21 Mar 2022 at 16:03
Dr Abbas, our esteemed Medical Director is trekking through Jordan to visit one of the New Wonders of The World. Will you join him and if you can’t could you sponsor him?
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Here is his story, and why St Clare holds such a special place in his heart
When I was training to be a doctor, I had no clue about the words ‘hospice’ or ‘palliative care’. My journey was about becoming a doctor, train in acute medicine, become a specialist in cardiology and help cure every patient!
In the late 90s I was still working in a hospital where I came across patients who were not getting better despite all the treatments we tried. I asked myself…
‘Am I getting something wrong?’
‘Should we be doing something else for them?’
‘Are we failing?’
One evening I met a lady in her late 80s. She had a heart attack and her heart was failing. I remember saying to her that I will see what I can do for her. She reached out trembling and held my hand.
‘I think I am ready to go.’ She said.
‘Go where?’ I asked.
She smiled weakly and said with all the effort. ‘You know where.’
I learnt something that day. She was telling me my job. As a doctor, I was there to help make my patients comfortable at whatever stage they were. I still needed to provide her active care. Making her physically comfortable, speaking to her empathetically, supporting her family, respecting her dignity and making sure that her family remembered a caring team, which made their loved one’s last days dignified.
So, I started training in Palliative care. I learnt that Palliative care was more than just holding hands. It was physical care for a patient, using communication with empathy and patience, psychological and emotional support for patient and their families, assessing their social and financial situation, recognising their spiritual and existential needs, working with a team to provide good patient care and reaching out to educate and lead teams to achieve a ‘good death’.
In 2000, St Clare Hospice started its In-patient unit and they advertised for a doctor. This is how it all started for me.
For 22 years, I have been a part of St Clare Hospice. I have developed a career and as a person. I have worked with some amazing people. All of us have one goal in mind. How can we achieve good final days, weeks or months our patients? I have come across some wonderful patients who have shared with me their personal stories and told me how this hospice has made a difference to their days. I remember their stories fondly.
Many times I walked in a local supermarket and have been greeted by people whose family member St Clare had cared for. This gives me such a huge satisfaction, motivates me to be a leader. Since I became medical director, we have achieved an OUTSTANDING rating from the Care Quality Commission.
But all of this is not easy. It requires funding and support. Two years back, we faced an unprecedented challenge! COVID-19 meant that we had to do things differently. As a hospice, we were determined to see patients, do home and hospital visits and start a care homes project to visit patients in care homes. However, it also meant that like any other business, we had to close our shops and like any other charity, we were unable to hold so many of our planned fund-raising events.
We stayed afloat but we have to keep going. That means all of us have to do our part as we plan to reach significantly more people in our local communities. So I have decided to do my part. I have accepted the challenge to walk in Jordan. I will be trekking along valley plateaus, from Amman to Petra covering about 77kms (48 miles) in 5 days. The challenge is classed as ‘tough’ but I believe that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’
So I am reaching out to you. I have accepted this challenge because I trust in goodness I find in YOU. I believe that YOU all want a hospice to not just SURVIVE but also THRIVE. Our Hospice is a place where we all believe in dignified care and we want to cultivate that culture among our colleagues and communities. We can only do this with YOUR help. So please help me complete this challenge and make sure that patients continue to receive the OUTSTANDING care, which they deserve.
You can sponsor Dr Abbas here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/syed-qamar-abbas