Calley’s Story: why I work at a hospice

Categories: People & Places.

Hospice Care Week 2023 celebrated the people who make hospice care what it is, and explored why many hospice staff find what they do to be the most rewarding and satisfying job of their career.

Calley-Anne’s work in her role as Activities Coordinator at The Myton Hospices means she has an important part to play in patients’ wellbeing.

A brand new role

Calley-Anne Schmitz joined The Myton Hospices in May 2023 as Activities Coordinator at Myton’s Inpatient Unit in Warwick. This innovative new role was created as part of their new Respite Beds model.

Calley’s work focuses on respite patients – those who visit the hospice to allow people caring for them at their home to take a temporary break. But she works hard to discover all of Myton patients’ hobbies and interests, aiming to improve and enhance their wellbeing during their stay. It’s led to some fascinating discoveries and a rich, rewarding working life for Calley.

Memories that will last a lifetime

“We focus on all aspects of care for each patient, it’s not just the clinical and medical side of care…my role considers each individual holistically”, says Calley.

As an Activities Coordinator, her aim is to create the person-centred approach to individualising activities and what is meaningful to them.

She adds, “every individual has the need to feel stimulated, connected and engaged. I support those needs by focusing on helping them continue doing the things they love to do, rekindle their interests, or discover something new that they have always wanted to try.”

For Calley, her love of what she does stems from helping ensure that patients get the most out of their time at Myton, through their hobbies and interests:

“Completing an activity that means something to them can often balance their symptoms too and enhance their overall wellbeing. If they are receiving end of life care then this can also play a part in leading to a “good death”.
“It also gives families and loved ones memories to last a lifetime.”

Why Calley works at a hospice

Calley has a deeply personal reason for working in a hospice. Prior to her role at Myton, she had several years of experience in health and social care, working with all age groups. However, her interest in hospice care grew when her sister was cared for at a hospice.

“In 2019, my sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness and attended day hospice and was then admitted to the Inpatient Unit for her last few days.”

Calley says that knowing that her sister was receiving the full support of the hospice was incredibly important to her:

“My sister lived on her own at the time and I was pregnant and living in Germany, so it was hard to care for her at the beginning. Knowing she had the full support of the hospice and was properly cared for meant a lot. I am so appreciative of their support.”

When the new role came up at Myton, Calley jumped at the chance: “it was like the stars aligned, it fitted so well! Knowing I can make a difference during people’s hardest times is so rewarding.”

The variety of life

There is so much that Calley loves about her job – including the fun of catering for such a wide variety of patients’ interests:

“I’ve had one patient who loved dachshunds, so I brought my own dachshund to see her. They absolutely loved each other, my dog curled up and fell asleep on her bed.

“I also did some knitting with her too which was a new craft for me to learn. As an activity her and her husband did together, they taught me the basics.

She spent four hours knitting a rectangle. Sadly, she deteriorated soon after so I turned what she knitted into a key ring and attached a knitted butterfly. Her husband placed it in her hand whilst she died and he took it home to treasure forever.

He later told me that seeing her do what she loved in her last few days meant so much to him. Giving him a lasting memory of his wife makes what I do so rewarding.”

The reward of conversation

Other activities that Calley enjoys with patients range from fingerprint art or painting to something as simple as going for a walk and having a conversation.

She says that whilst conversations aren’t usually seen as an ‘activity’, a hobby or interest, it’s her belief that sharing stories and having conversations can be a hugely positive factor on a person’s wellbeing:

“As a patient, conversations are usually centred around their illness; how they are, what condition they have, what they are experiencing, and so on. Having a conversation that isn’t necessarily focused on that can be refreshing.”

Hospice colleagues: professional and compassionate

Calley loves what she does at Myton – and is full of praise for her colleagues:

“Everyone here is so adaptive. Situations can change in an instant on the ward but everyone handles this with professionalism and compassion.

“In an often overwhelming and scary time for patients and their families, Myton is such a caring and understanding place, providing a safe environment.”

The amazing environment is big part of why Calley wants to change perceptions of hospice care:

“I hope that my role and what we aim to do can help the misconception that hospices are miserable places. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is sadness of course, but lots of fun and laughter too. We are also extremely open to talking about death and dying which is much needed in a society where so often this isn’t the case.”

Thank you to Calley and The Myton Hospices for sharing her story for Hospice Care Week.


This article was published by Hospice UK and is republished here with permission.



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