Why I marched at Pride: A Hospice Director’s story

Director of Patient Care at St Clare, Carolanne Brannan, reflects on valuing diversity within the Hospice - and what more we need to do to ensure we are there for everyone in our local community.
Published on: Wednesday 10 Jul 2019 at 10:44

On Saturday 6th July, I joined my colleagues from St Clare Hospice in marching alongside other UK charities at Pride in London.  We were part of a wider group of people from the London Hospice LGBT Network; there were nine hospices in total which took part.

I felt so privileged and honoured to be a part of something that is committed to showing that diversity is celebrated, not just tolerated. This is something that we feel very strongly about at St Clare. We want everyone to know they can seek hospice support and care, and they will be welcomed by us.

Connecting with our communities

We know that we need to reach out to the communities in our area. Our aim is to ensure that people from all segments of our community feel that they can be part of St Clare.  However, we know that there are often cultural barriers we need to overcome; for instance, in many languages there is no word for hospice. So, we have much work to do to help people understand what hospices are and how they can help everyone.

People are our best asset at St Clare Hospice; we are lucky to have lots of very welcoming, friendly people who are familiar to each community, and we are always looking for more. We are working hard to make sure that St Clare Hospice is a warm and open environment for all staff and volunteers; and we encourage everyone who works for us, paid or unpaid, to be who they are and live their true lives within the Hospice.

Valuing our teams

We use internal communications, and support tools and mechanisms like the Schwartz Rounds, as a place for staff to be open about themselves and discuss the emotional impact of working in a hospice.  We also have the ‘Our Voice’ forum, which gives people the opportunity to voice views on Hospice issues – including diversity.

People have the ability to ease fear, support each other, give encouragement and shape the communities they are part of. This is why we are working hard to ensure that our staff and volunteers reflect the demographic of our local community.

‘A Hospice without walls’

Our Community Engagement team is working hard to open the doors of the Hospice to all of our communities in West Essex and East Hertfordshire.  And we are looking at who is coming in through our doors – and who is not. This will help us identify who we need to work harder to approach.

We work with all faith groups to ensure that everyone who is part of St Clare – our staff, our volunteers, our patients and their families and friends – have support in their faith. We are also helping to build confidence around matters relating to faith at the end of life. In fact, we have a study day in September 2019 examining this exact topic. Also, we’re reaching out to all faiths to join us as they celebrate their religious festivals – including Diwali and Yom Kippur.

We are about to start running an LGBTQ Death Café, facilitated by one of our committed volunteers. We also have a diversity and LGBTQ representative within the Hospice. They works with, and are a conduit for, people within these groups.

Our Hospice community

These are all small things, but they all help people feel like there are others who understand them when they are in need of help and support.

We know that there is always more that we can do. Diversity isn’t just about having the right policies and people in place. It’s about valuing individuals and empowering them to make changes where they find that different cultures are experiencing parity.

We’re not there yet, but we’re committed to celebrating all that is great about diversity. And ensuring that we are here for everyone in our community.

– Carolanne

Carolanne Brannan is St Clare’s Director of Patient Care, and has worked in many areas within healthcare delivery but has mainly specialised in oncology and palliative care. Her previous role was as Clinical Lead for a project within St Joseph’s Hospice in London. Prior to this, she managed community nursing teams at the hospice. Carolanne has worked at the Royal Marsden Hospital; firstly with the palliative care team and subsequently implementing the Coordinate My Care (CMC) project across London.

Carolanne has experience in strategic growth of hospice services. She has a keen interest in broadening hospice access for patients and service users, ensuring that we minimise any inequities within access of hospice care.  She is part way through her MSc in Service Redesign and Leadership which she finds extremely motivating and relevant to her role within St Clare.

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