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3 May 2022

It's all relative: Mel and Becky's story

It’s all relative: Mel and Becky’s story

There’s an old saying that Mum knows best.

So, when Mel Woodhouse followed her dream of working in palliative care, it was fitting that her daughter Becky Tolley joined her.

The pair are now among the longest-serving Senior Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) in our Hospice at Home team.

“We’ve worked together throughout our careers,” said Mel.

“Since joining Hospice at Home, we’ve done a couple of shifts together, and most guess straight away that we’re mother and daughter. I think it gives that extra reassurance to people.”

Mel started life at St Michael’s as a volunteer HCA, later joining the Marie Curie team before becoming part of Hospice at Home, a then-fledgling part of the Hospice’s established care network, where staff would travel across the community caring for patients in their own homes.

She was soon joined by daughter Becky.

“I knew I wanted to work in palliative care, just like mum,” said Becky. “It’s a passion of hers, and a passion of mine.

“It’s such a privilege to do this job, but you have to be right for the role. You can have all the qualifications in the world, but if you’re not compassionate then it’s not for you.”

Although Mel and Becky don’t often work together, they are still able to provide comfort to each other.

“I’m so lucky to work in the same team as Becky,” said Mel.

“Knowing what the other is going through means we can help and support one another if we’re finding things hard.”

Both say the job is immensely rewarding and that their relationship with the patient is so special.

“We don’t forget people,” added Mel. “Even those we cared for years ago are still in our thoughts.

“Patients and their families are often so grateful. Being allowed into someone’s life at such a poignant and vulnerable time is a real privilege. There’s just something incredibly special it.

“It’s a wonderful job, and I love it. Even if I was rich, I would do it for free.”

Hospice at Home launched in 2016 as a partnership between St Michael’s, Marie Curie and the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Its aim was to allow palliative patients in our community to be cared for in the comfort of their own home.

Prior to its introduction, opportunity was limited for those with a terminal diagnosis to be looked after in such a way.

The work that Mel, Becky, and the wider Hospice at Home team carries out would not be possible without the continued support of the community.

“We cannot thank the Hospice’s supporters enough,” said Becky.

“Without their support, we would not be able to do a job we love, and we would not have the privilege of allowing people to die in the way and the surroundings they choose.

“It’s about giving people a good death. That is so important.”

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