Quality time for everyone – Steph Edusei from St Oswald’s Hospice

At St Oswald’s Hospice, our slogan is “Quality time for everyone”, and that truly is what we strive to deliver to everyone who comes into our care, said Steph Edusei, Chief Executive Officer of St Oswald’s Hospice.

Time to enjoy family and friends, time to make peace, time to make memories, time to put things in order, time to come to terms and time to be cared for. It’s fundamental to the way we holistically support patients and families, and provide the care they need, when they need it most.

I know and see every day the difference that our fantastic team makes to the lives of patients and families and I want that to be experienced by everyone who needs it regardless of ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, gender, economic background or anything else for that matter.

We’re aware however, that we’re currently not doing this for everyone.

Let’s be realistic, not everyone who has a life-limiting condition wants to come to St Oswald’s Hospice and not everyone needs our support, but we know that some communities of people don’t access our services as much as others.

People who are ethnically minoritised (otherwise known as Black, Asian and minority ethnic or BAME) don’t access our services as much as their White counterparts. This isn’t exclusive to us at St Oswald’s Hospice, the same is reflected across the hospice sector and to an extent in Palliative and End of Life Care more generally.

Hospice Care Week, organised by Hospice UK, takes place during  Black History Month. The year’s theme is, “Opening up end of life care for all” – and this shows just how important we all feel that equity of access to care is. What we are finding particularly challenging is that we don’t understand why we see this disparity…yet.

Now many people will tell us that it’s because people who are ethnically minoritised want to care for their relatives themselves at home; however, that doesn’t prevent them accessing Hospice care. As Our Story’ starts…

‘We are St Oswald’s and we’re a hospice.

We’re much more than what most people think we are.’

We offer much more than just end of life care. Many of the people who get support and care from us spend most of their time at home. Many at the end of their lives, choose to die in their own homes.

Others say they think we are a Christian organisation, probably because of our name;  again that’s a common misconception as we care for people of all faiths or no faith and our care is designed around the needs and wants of the patient.

The truth is we just don’t know what the reasons are that our services are not accessed by everyone who needs us. But we know that fewer patients from ethnically minoritised backgrounds are referred to us, however if a patient is referred to us we don’t filter on the basis of ethnicity. Everyone is welcome at St Oswald’s Hospice – and we believe everyone deserves equal access to high quality palliative and hospice care.

Earlier this year we started some work to gather views from people who are ethnically minoritised. We want to understand what they know and think about Hospices and about the services we have here at St Oswald’s Hospice. We also want to identify what barriers there may be to people accessing our services and to learn what we can do to remove those barriers. It has been a slow process but one that we’re committed to. We will share results with you when we can. And of course, we will continue to reach out to our local communities and get to know them better and help to reduce any fear and myth around hospice care.

For me this is a personal passion and duty but I’m delighted to have found real kindred spirits at St Oswald’s Hospice. People who are really passionate about making sure that our services reach as many people as possible and meet the varied and diverse needs of those people. People who care about individuals and want to support them to make the most of the time they have. As an organisation we’re committed to this and it runs through everything we do.

I’m looking forward to seeing how we can reach out more into communities and build strong links that will enrich and diversify our workforce and our volunteer team as well as help us to really achieve our aim to bring “Quality time for everyone”.

For more information about our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work, please visit: St Oswald’s Hospice | Equality, diversity and inclusion (stoswaldsuk.org)

If you’d like to talk to me further about any of the issues raised above, please email me at: enquiries@stoswaldsuk.org

If you’d like to help us raise awareness that we are here for everyone in our community, please share this article with your networks, friends and families.

Thank you

Steph Edusei