Hospice staff delight patients with surprise festive party

Musical treat for Birmingham St Mary’s patients.

Staff from a Birmingham hospice surprised patients and their loved ones this December, with a music-filled Christmas celebration.

Team members from Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice swapped their notepads for guitars, as they played a lively set of Christmas tunes for patients to sing-a-long too.

The one-off ‘band’ – made up of hospice social workers, bereavement counsellors and volunteers – performed the set at Umberslade Nurseries in Selly Park, with the aim of spreading festive cheer to the people they care for.

Patients were also treated to turkey and stuffing sandwiches and homemade mince pies, as the team played classics such as ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and ‘Jingle Bells’.

Josephine Walker, who has been using the Hospice’s services for 18 months, said: “What a lovely surprise – it’s nice to be able to come down here and celebrate this time of year with other people. There’s been a wonderful atmosphere and I’m grateful that my son was invited to come along too – it’s good to spend time with him, doing fun things.”

Josephine, along with the other patients, is currently being cared for by the Hospice’s ‘Support at Home’ service – an initiative which sees trained volunteers visit people in their own homes to offer friendly companionship and a listening ear. The service aims to combat the growing problem of isolation in the community, as well as offer busy carers an opportunity to take a break for a few hours each week.

Birmingham St Mary’s lead palliative care social worker, Maxine Jones, hasn’t played guitar for over 25 years. She said: “It’s been fantastic to dust off the old guitar and get performing again. Although I felt a bit nervous, when I looked up to see people singing along and laughing, it made every second worth it.”

Hasun Tayyub, Support at Home lead at the Hospice, added: “Christmas is a time for celebration but for people and their carers who are living with life-limiting illness, it can be a lonely and quite isolating time. The idea of our surprise party was to bring a little Christmas spirit to the people we support, helping to bring people together and create a sense of belonging.

“We’ll also have volunteers visiting patients on Christmas Day, as well as offering a telephone befriending service, to make sure that no one feels lonely at this time of year.”

On Christmas Day, Birmingham St Mary’s will be caring for 400 people and their loved ones across Birmingham and Sandwell. The Hospice’s Care at Christmas’festive appeal aims to raise vital awareness of hospice care at this time of year, as well as boost support for the charity. To find out more, visit: www.careatchristmas.org