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25 October 2023

St Michael’s becomes first ever UK Hospice to be awarded Centre of Excellence for Mindfulness

St Michael’s becomes first ever UK Hospice to be awarded Centre of Excellence for Mindfulness

St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford has become the first Hospice in the UK to be awarded a Centre of Excellence for Mindfulness.

The prestigious award comes from the Mindfulness organisation and charity, Breathworks, a global body which has been training Mindfulness teachers for over 20 years.

Mindfulness is a practice of bringing attention to the present moment, and learning to not be overwhelmed by the world around us. Over the years, Mindfulness has benefitted patients, their loved ones, staff and volunteers at St Michael’s, which provides palliative and end-of-life care to those in Herefordshire and its borders.

The award was presented to Gail Calthrop, the Hospice’s Breathworks Mindfulness Practitioner, by Breathworks Co-founders Vidyamala Burch OBE and Sona Fricker during a special ceremony at St Michael’s.

For Gail, the accolade is recognition of the quality and breadth of Mindfulness services offered by the Hospice.

“It is wonderful to be recognised as an industry leader, and to have developed our Mindfulness services to the point where it is benefitting so many people,” she said. “I think it reflects the depth in quality that St Michael’s Hospice offers people across our community, and now increasingly beyond it.”

Gail has worked closely over the years with Vidyamala and Sona.

“The comprehensive Mindfulness programme at St Michael’s is a great example of why we founded Breathworks, to enable these life-changing programmes to be made widely accessible in the community,” said Vidyamala. “We’re proud of what Gail, Mark (Brothers, another Breathworks Mindfulness Practitioner at St Michael’s) and others have enabled and are delighted to mark this in 2023 with the Breathworks Centre of Excellence Award.”

The Hospice’s journey with Mindfulness began in 2009 when a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course was held, and attended by Gail in her role as a Hospice Registered Nurse – a role she still holds today.

“I remember that course being very helpful for me in dealing with things in my own life,” said Gail. “I thought, ‘this could be helpful for everyone in the Hospice community to have as a skill in dealing with life, because I found it so beneficial’.”

Fast forward five years, and Gail had qualified as a Breathworks Mindfulness teacher.

“Myself, and a colleague at the time, Ceda, then lead Mindfulness for Health and Stress courses, and a Mindfulness drop-in, each month,” Gail added. “We continued the Mindfulness drop-ins and developed the Mindfulness offers to include taster sessions to support various groups, including staff and those attending our Day Hospice. Since then, it has developed and grown to the point where I’m now teaching Mindfulness three-and-a-half days a week, and leading a wide range of sessions including All Day Practices, Exploring Loss and Grief Mindfully workshops, Living Well Groups, and Living with Long Term Ill Health groups.

“What is so rewarding is the fact that our Mindfulness offers are now wider than the Hospice community, with bodies such as councils and nursing homes benefitting. I am regularly talking to other Hospices about our work, and sharing the benefits of Mindfulness within the palliative services.  

“Making Mindfulness accessible to everyone is an ethos I share with Breathworks. I feel very proud of the fact that Mindfulness is offered to each and every one of our patients at St Michael’s, with drop-ins also free for staff, volunteers and patients’ loved ones. And because we make our longer courses financially viable, it makes Mindfulness easier to access for a greater breadth of people outside the Hospice network, which can only be a good thing.”

To find out about our upcoming Mindfulness courses at St Michael’s Hospice, just click here

WATCH: How St Michael’s achieved its Centre of Excellence recognition

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