A Short Walk to the Other Side


Felicite Mbenga (pictured left) has be interning with the Fundraising and Communications Team for the last year. Here she talks about a particular experience:

It sounds a little ambiguous, almost scary even. I will even go as far as saying that it seems daunting.

I’m referring to the title I’ve chosen to headline this post. You see, I thought it seemed appropriate because for me it really was as if I’d stepped over to the other side. Actually I only walked over to the Woodgrange Centre!

I’m currently interning with the Fundraising and Communications Department at St Luke’s Hospice. It often comes as a surprise to most people when I tell them that I’m currently studying Biomedical Science at university. It’s naturally expected that I shadow nurses and doctors and that I generally work within the In Patient Unit.

Working with both Fundraising and Communications teams has cultured in me a slightly business-like attitude. Being surrounded by goals, deadlines and procedures has somewhat obscured my view of the bigger picture. As a scientist and an aspiring doctor, I must admit that this alarmed me to a certain degree. I felt that being immersed in tasks and deadlines had made me lose sight of the ‘why’.

Something had to be done.

To cut a long story short, I liaised with both my supervisors and Woodgrange Centre lead, and within a few weeks I’d arranged a date to shadow the team.

Pretty soon the day came, and it went. But my vision was no longer blurred.
I had found my ‘why’.

Chatting with the patients and simply spending time with them was in itself a learning experience. I came to realise how much of a role the hospice played in the patients’ personal health and when I partook in their therapy sessions and sat in on their ‘lectures’. Whilst I agree that the staff’s main focus is to provide care, I noticed that they also educate patients and their families in a way that simultaneously uplifts morale.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m enlightened by this. Perhaps it is because the one-on-one interaction that I had with the patients caused me to realise that I had enclosed myself in a bubble in my upstairs office. I had unknowingly shut myself away from them and their needs. I had pushed their problems onto the shoulders of their carers, forgetting that I too am a part of the hospice, and therefore a part of the care provided.

Needless to say, my appreciation for the clinical team has grown deeper because of this. I can now clearly see the extent to which each doctor, nurse and therapist goes to, to ensure that each individual journey is as comfortable as possible. The hospice as a whole not only provides emergency 24 hour care service through its Single Point Access service, but teams of nurses go a step further to oversee and manage the care of patients at home. Isn’t that amazing?

A few hours into my shadowing, it then dawned on me that the team I work in actually help enable our clinical staff to do this. Believe me when I tell you how excited and determined I became to get back to my desk and start working! Not only do I now know why my input matters, I am now conscious of it each day I come into work. It is this conscious awareness that gives me a purpose.

I think the trigger was pulled during one particular encounter with a female patient. She was  a lovely and bubbly elderly woman I met for the first time, she  introduced herself to me and I to her, and then proceeded to tell me her life story; its ups and downs, its failures and successes. In revealing all this to me, she inadvertently reminded me why she needed the hospice and what my purpose was. In that moment I reconnected. She completed the ‘why’ to my role.

As I’ve previously mentioned, everything that my team does in our upstairs office has every impact on the services, treatments and facilities provided to our patients. However to say that I am always aware of this would be ‘untruthful’ to say the least. Spending time with patients taught me a lot about personal struggles and milestones that I would otherwise not have paid so much attention to. It also taught me that I, my team and each individual department within the hospice, plays an important role in reaching these accomplishments.

Your donations, your support, your time, your chats and your hugs play an immense role in reaching these milestones.

So now I ask you. Are you aware of the impact that you have had, currently have and may well continue to have at St Luke’s Hospice?

You see, I’ve come to learn that you don’t need to do something huge to make a change. It’s the little things that people remember most.