Joint Chief Executive Shaun O’Leary was featured on US podcast The Heart of Hospice earlier this month.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Shaun spoke about the history of St Christopher’s, the importance of our founder Dame Cicely Saunders to the palliative care movement, and his excitement for the launch of St Christopher’s CARE (the Centre for Awareness and Response to End of life).
Shaun told hosts Helen Bauer and Jerry Fenter that St Christopher’s CARE was an opportunity to bring more people in from the local community and provide them with the tools to help their loved ones.
“For us, it’s a huge shift for the organisation. We’ve had 50-odd years of probably providing even more education to the very highly educated. We’re going to carry on doing that because we all need to carry on learning and there are always improvements to end of life care that will make a difference to people, but a very strong vein for our new centre is bringing people into the local community, having a skills lab, … helping people to have the right kinds of conversations … that feels really exciting.
“It’s for ordinary people, it’s for family members, it’s for employers, it’s for people who live across from the hospice and have lived there for 20 years but aren’t sure what we do.
“It’s for all those people who want to do a little bit more but don’t quite know what to do, whether they’ve got permission to do it, or how to permission to do it or are fearful for getting it very badly wrong.”
He recalled the experience of one woman, whose husband received support from St Christopher’s and had broken down in tears with her daughter after the carers had visited because they had felt unable to help him.
“The carers hadn’t done anything particularly expert, it’s just what they’d done had been just what he needed. They turned him without causing him pain, they moistened his mouth, they made sure he was comfortable, they’d injected him with whatever he needed to ease his pain.”
They [the woman and her daughter] felt sure there was an element of this they could do by themselves, but they didn’t know whether they should or didn’t know whether they could.”
You can listen to the podcast at the link below or on the major podcast platforms.
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