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Inside the Hospice: Long live Change

By Fr Peter-Michael Scott

I cannot lay claim to the following observation, it was made by a great priest, and I am sure people reading this will instantly recognise him: ‘sensitive people tend to be insensitive to themselves’. As the years roll on, this piece of advice is one I often use because we can be remarkably cruel to ourselves. If someone is in the throes of being self-critical or unjustly self-deprecating, then I advise that they try to change. God never creates us as failures or mistakes; he rejoices because everyone is a gemstone he has put into the world. To learn to see ourselves as God does often requires a healthy interior change.

Hospice, it may surprise you, is also about change. There is another beautiful quote, but this one was made by an alumna of St Joseph’s called Dame Cicely Saunders. She famously wrote: ‘You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.’ It is a wonderful insight into an aspect of hospice care that is very important, but is so often under reported: ‘symptom control’, whereby a tired or exhausted patient with a life limiting illness is admitted and the hospice attempts to help them to live their lives to the best of their ability. This involves a gallery of expert staff from different disciplines advising the patient to change their lifestyle so that they can cope better with their illness. It could be an alteration in diet, or getting used to a mobility aid, or rebalancing medications. There is a beautiful sensitivity to this facet of hospice care: with kind supervision it empowers patients to make their changes, so that, like all of us, as a gemstone, they can totally attempt to ‘live until they die’. I say, long live ‘change’.

Please pray for the patients, staff, volunteers and sisters of St Joseph’s Hospice.