Selina’s account of St Luke’s in the pandemic influenced MPs’ key end of life report
Proud St Luke’s ambassador Selina Rogers has spoken out at a pivotal meeting at the House of Commons in London to share her experience of frontline hospice care with influential policy makers.
Selina, a Senior Health Care Assistant with our Urgent Care Service (EoLUCS) team, was thrilled to be invited to a special reception last week launching a hard-hitting new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the lasting impact of the Covid pandemic on death, dying, bereavement and end of life care.
“I felt very proud of myself and of St Luke’s – we have had a major part in this important study. It’s a huge moment in hospice care, and I’m honoured to be involved,” she says.
Selina was asked to meet the group’s MPs in person, alongside representatives from other health and care organisations across the UK, after contributing evidence last year – quoted in the report – on the overwhelming impact of the pandemic on patients and their families, as well as St Luke’s frontline care.
The report highlights how the significant rise in deaths during the pandemic, especially in people’s own homes, placed huge pressure on the health and care system and led to incidences of poor care nationwide. The sheer volume of death, alongside measures to reduce the spread of infection, resulted in extreme pressure on exhausted health and care workers and unpaid carers.
Selina spoke confidently at Westminster to give a voice, not only to St Luke’s, but to health care professionals across the UK delivering end of life care.
“The pandemic highlighted the work that hospices do in our communities. I am very passionate about what we do at St Luke’s and the impact we have on our community. I will talk to anyone about it. I was able to explain how we work and how we make it possible for people to die at home,” she says.
“I also talked about the increase in the numbers of people wanting to die at home during the pandemic, mainly because of restrictions on people coming into nursing homes and wards.
“People were very interested in what I had to say. They listened and were really engaged, which was great. They asked a lot of questions about what I’d experienced and what we are seeing now, post Covid. I explained that we are probably the busiest we have ever been at the moment, and that’s a knock-on effect of the pandemic.”
The report underlines that with more people expected to die in 2031 than in 2020, significantly more end of life support will be needed in future, particularly for people who choose to die in their own homes.
The need for more government funding for hospices and more education across the board for health care professionals who have no experience of death and dying, as well as better mental health support for staff are also highlighted.
Selina, who is currently studying to become a Nursing Associate with a St Luke’s apprenticeship, has been hugely encouraged and moved by the event, especially a speech by the group’s co-chair Baroness Finlay supporting lobbying of the government for more funds for hospice care, affirming that everyone should be entitled to free specialist end of life care.
“It is all so positive and, reading the report, it’s exciting that finally things are hopefully going to improve for the future and hospice care will get the recognition and support that it deserves,” she says.
Selina’s skills for describing the stark realities and enormous challenges of the pandemic on hospice care professionals came to the attention of the All-Party Parliamentary Group after she wrote a blog for St Luke’s own website in 2020 just as the country went into its second lockdown.
She was later interviewed for Hospice UK on Sky TV and that led to her contribution to the report and her invitation to Parliament. Selina will now be sharing what she has learned from the experience with St Luke’s CEO Steve Statham and Director of Clinical Services George Lillie.
There’s no doubt that Selina’s day at Parliament was an unforgettable one, not least because it also happened to be her 38th birthday.
“It was very surreal going to the House of Commons, and I was quite nervous going in on my own, but I surprised myself. There were a lot of people who were higher up in their organisations, but I don’t think there was anyone else there in my area of work. It’s certainly a birthday I’ll always remember,” she says.