Zoe Langham at LOROS
One of the largest misconceptions I had on arriving at LOROS at the beginning of my two week placement was, surprisingly, what a hospice actually was. It soon struck me that the clinical aspect of end of life treatment was barely scratching the surface of the hospices purpose and aims, and that whilst the physical care is important, equally so is the spiritual, psychological and family support side of palliative care. I found that it was no longer so much about the end of the road for the patient, but rather the beginning of a journey of acceptance for the family and friends they will be leaving behind.
What I believe stuck with me most also came as a surprise; how the organisation strives to break down the hush, hush mindset surrounding death itself, and encourage people to embrace it as a normal part of our lives that warrants discussion as much as anything else, in order for it to become a less daunting and frightening process for the patients. Hearing of their lives and stories for yourself in day therapy is beyond what any patient story can show, and for them how something as simple as sharing that story with you makes their journey out that one person more memorable, passing the baton of life experience from one finishing their race, to one such as me only just beginning it.
Being in and seeing the MDT's and nurses changeover was particularly exciting for me from a medical aspect, however equally from a teamwork aspect and seeing these different disciplines had spent the week, coming together with no sense of a hierarchy, rather and overall respect for the views and opinions of every member present. This follows onto my time in complimentary therapy whereby clinical meets the psychological and fills the astoundingly large gap between the two in end of life care. My only regret about seeing the amazing work of Angela was that I didn't get to see more of it, to witness not just the aromatherapies but hypnotherapies and reflexology's alike.
Aside from such a hands on approach into palliative care I found it was balanced seeing lotteries, fundraising and the melton shop. Often, myself included, you never get to see just how much underpins the organisations existence and the limitless background support from the volunteers. It was lovely meeting some of those volunteers and asking them why they chose to volunteer for LOROS. For many of them there was a sense of pride in working for such a renowned charity, or they had seen the hospices admirable work first hand from a family member.
One of the many things I will walk away never forgetting was COMS skills, I think its something that is particularly valuable to younger people as we all probably rate ourselves as fairly good communicators, however will most likely find, as I did, they are far from it. This goes hand in hand with my time in family support, where learning of the funeral and grieving process was something I had never come across. It was shocking to realise that people my age could so easily have to experience it for themselves, and often will have to as they age, and yet know nothing about it.
I think something that could be particularly good for those students/volunteers with an interest in religion is spending some time with Helen herself, as I loved my time with her despite my clear lack of knowledge in the variety of religions Leicester had to offer. I found it was easy to quickly pick them up, and some valuable knowledge with regards to treating the various religions with respect daily, alongside soul space that gave an insight into how to deal with the stresses of everyday life.
Finally getting to meet Jo and Luke gave a sense of the structure within the organisation that I don't think Id have been able to fully understand without them explaining themselves. It was also lovely to ask them what made them look to palliative care for their careers, both had interesting stories as to what brought them here. Again, with my time spent with Donna and Brigette, this was particularly interesting to me as a young medical enthusiast, and I'd have loved more time particularly with donna on the wards as learning of the waterlow scores and taking a look into system one was something I'd have never been able to see at this age.
Throughout my two weeks spent at LOROS it was clear that I couldn't have come into a more accepting and caring team in all departments, and that I was ultimately treated as if I had become a part of that team myself. I couldn't think of a better environment for someone my age to be going into and I saw no reason why younger people, assuming they are mature enough, couldn't bring a valuable spark to the organisation in whichever aspect they became a part of. The staff at LOROS are all clearly prepared go out of their way to take students under their wing and push the boat out to make their experience enjoyable and exciting, and ultimately I think it was due to this alone why I loved my time there so very much.
Thank you so much LOROS, my only hope its not my last time as a part of the organisation!