How a Birmingham hospice is meeting the diversity needs of its patients

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.

Birmingham is the UK’s second most diverse city after London. Based in the suburb of Erdington, John Taylor Hospice has been ensuring the charity is inclusive of different faith and cultural backgrounds to meet the needs of the patients and families it cares for.

The hospice aims to do this from the moment people enter the building, as the welcome sign is written in eight languages that are spoken by communities across the city, including Irish, Polish, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi and Arabic.

Catering to language and translation requirements can be a challenge in a city where more than 100 different languages are spoken, but staff have access to a translation service. Some members of staff also speak other languages, with the Wellbeing Service available in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi.

For patients staying on the Inpatient Unit, each television can access different channels available in various languages.  The hospice is also in the process of creating new literature in Polish, Urdu and Punjabi.

Personalised, inclusive care

The Catering Team will meet the food requests of individual patients, whether their requirements are based on nutritional needs, allergy issues or faith-based beliefs. Families can bring their own food from home if they wish, and use the microwaves in the visitors’ kitchens to reheat it.

Gail Hipkiss is the Director of Corporate and Commercial Services, and she chairs the hospice’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group. “We are committed to ensuring John Taylor Hospice is welcoming for everyone and that includes meeting the practical and spiritual elements of people’s differing cultural and faith needs” she says.

“Birmingham is such a rich and diverse city and it’s important that our hospice reflects and celebrates this diversity.”

The challenges of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for families wanting to celebrate special occasions. Diwali took place during the UK’s second period of lockdown, so the hospice created a special card for the people it supports.

Wellbeing Team Leader Surj Heer explains: “This year with lockdown making it difficult for many families to celebrate religious festivals together the hospice teams have tried to offer additional support. In November the hospice created a special Diwali card which was sent to patients, and the teams are currently gearing up to ensure Christmas is celebrated as well as possible during lockdown restrictions.

“We have made great strides in meeting people’s cultural and faith needs but we are aware there is still a lot of work to do. We have formed a Staff Inclusion Group to look at the hospice experience for staff and patients and a Community Participation Group to involve patients and their families in future decisions.”

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