Diversional Therapist Clare reflects on her 31 years at the hospice

Posted on 15 February 2017.

Clare Mills first came to Compton Hospice as a young 16-year-old on a work placement. 31 years later and she is still here, now working as a Diversional Therapist in our Woods Day Centre.

Here she explains how the hospice has changed over the years, why she first came to Compton and why she has never left.

She comments: “When I first started working at the hospice in 1986, I was asked to do some diversional therapy and recreational activities with patients on the ward and then I began to help out with auxiliary work, which I really enjoyed.

“When my placement ended I was offered an extension and a vacancy became available for a Healthcare Assistant. I was around 18 years old and I was offered the job on a part-time basis.

“During this time the coffee shop was called The Lodge and had facilities for four patients to use for respite care. There were two rooms inside for two patients - two a room. There would be one Healthcare Assistant and one volunteer working in the lodge at any one time.”

Clare worked for over 20 years on the ward before she applied to be a Diversional Therapist in the Woods Day Centre, which is current role here at the hospice.

“One of my favourite memories is when I was a Healthcare Assistant and there was a young lad on the ward around the same age as me,” says Clare. “His one wish before he died was to go and see the sea, so myself and another staff member arranged to take him to Blackpool and he stayed at the hospice there. It was lovely to make his final few days special.

“Other notable memories include taking patients to the cinema, to the theatre and to the Molineux. I also took one patient Christmas shopping. It was her last Christmas and she was getting presents for her children and grandchildren and to be able to help her and be a part of that was so rewarding.

“I feel privileged in my role to be able to share special moments with the patients in the Woods Centre. We make memory boxes together and when they write personal letters to their family members and ask me to read them it’s such an honour.

“When I first came to Compton on my placement, I was so frightened, I didn’t know what to expect but straight away I found the work to be so rewarding. Over the years I’ve seen the hospice movement develop and I’ve seen Compton become a training centre for doctors and nurses. We have been able to promote dying with dignity and been at the forefront of the movement.

“People speak about hospices a lot more now than they did when I first came here in 1986. Everyone used to wonder what was behind the wall out front because they didn’t know what kind of work we did here. Over the years those barriers have been broken down and people understand hospice care a lot more.”

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