Gaining experience at John Taylor Hospice

Guest blogger Freya Jowett talks about her placement at John Taylor Hospice.

Guest blogger Freya Jowett has been undertaking a student placement at the hospice.

With the end of my three years at university looming, I jumped at the chance to get some work experience and put my (very expensive) English degree to some use! While browsing placements I came across the opportunity to work for the Brand and Media Team at John Taylor Hospice and immediately knew it was for me.

My grandmother received wonderful palliative care at a hospice near my family home and I felt I understood and was passionate enough about hospice care to be able to contribute to the team’s work. I was lucky enough to be accepted and started my placement in July 2018.

I was introduced by Diane Parkes, the Head of Brand and Media, to her team members Scott Williams and Louise Allen and a whole host of other lovely people in the office, then settled at a desk to start my first project.

As part of their mission to support patients and their families through terminal illness it was decided that it would be beneficial to make materials available specifically for children which would explain the role of John Taylor Hospice in their loved ones’ lives. I began my time at the hospice researching this and putting together a questionnaire for parents and children to discover their views on the subject. Gradually I realised how little information is currently targeted at young people about a potentially very frightening period and I felt that the work I was doing could really make a difference to the lives of patients’ families.

The majority of my time at John Taylor has been spent producing content for the ‘Our History’ section of the website. In addition to researching and recording the hospice’s 100 years of care in Birmingham, I’ve been fortunate to document the stories of some past and present nursing staff members. Despite putting together my own questions, I found that my interviewees were more than forthcoming in sharing their stories about their time at the hospice – making it difficult to capture their experiences in 500 words but definitely infecting me with enthusiasm for John Taylor Hospice’s care and fundraising efforts.

Delving through an enormous box of old photographs, I came across a particularly lovely picture of a group of young nursing staff on the hospice’s front porch. The team thought this would make an interesting article for the news section of the website in which we could call for readers to help identify the women in the photo and when it was taken. I was delighted when my piece was also then published in the Birmingham Mail – with a little help from Louise – and we got a brilliant response, allowing me to put a name to everyone in the picture. We’re now in the process of rounding them up for a reunion!

In the stretch of time I have spent doing my placement, the hospice has seen two shops open. It’s been a fascinating and useful experience to see the Wylde Green shop turn from an idea, to a dishevelled empty unit, to the polished success we saw at the opening. I’ve learnt a huge amount about how my team and many others behind the scenes keep the hospice afloat and I hope to take away the skills I’ve learnt for a similar career – I’ve loved it!

I’m very grateful to all the lovely professional people I’ve met during my placement; staff, patients and interviewees but particularly to Diane, Louise, and Scott for their infinite patience and guidance.

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What our patients think

“I’d have really struggled without them”

“They’ve been ever so good to me and that’s why I wanted to fundraise and do something to help just like they’ve helped me.”

Philomena Sharpe

“The impact they had will never be forgotten”

“The community nurses were so helpful and they’re lovely people. They put my mind at rest and it’s such a comfort to know you’re not on your own.”

Jackie Day

“An angel sent into my life”

“I can’t thank Angie (patient and family support worker) enough for everything she’s done for us. She’s so reliable and professional – a wonderful person. She took away all these worries and was there for me in my time of need.”

Patricia Smith-Evans

“I’ve really enjoyed it”

“The FAB Programme has helped me to get fitter and my walking is better. Everyone is really nice at the hospice, they’re friendly and they’re good company. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in a similar situation to me.”

Don Bell

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