Many faces... Many roles... Hospice's unsung heroes...
IT'S hard for 33-year-old Sarah Hand to have a bad day at work because she knows she's part of a team that's making a big difference to people's lives.
Sarah, from Blurton, is the hospice's income administration and gift aid manager. Her team is responsible for all of the donations that come into the Dougie Mac. The four part-time members of staff and 16 permanent volunteers count the cash and send out the acknowledgement letters.
She said: "There's a massive amount of money that goes through the office and without the volunteers we wouldn't be able to cope. It's very satisfying knowing that you're part of an organisation that does such fantastic work. You never go home and think you don't want to go to work the next day because you're still making a difference in your own way."
AS THE hospice's clinical governance manager, Pauline Flanagan keeps a close eye on the quality of services.
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The 60-year-old, from Blurton, keeps up-to-date with all the guidance and the legislation and strives to improve the body of services provided to the community.
She said: "My mum had cancer and died at the Dougie Mac in 1987 when she was 61-years-old. It was a terrible time but I had such a positive experience of the hospice that I wanted, in some way, to be a part of it.
"I also run the patients' forum and carers' form and it helps me to empathise with the people. It's so difficult when someone you love is coming to the end of their life, you're so vulnerable and the things that go wrong magnify. It's wonderful to come to a place where you know your loved one will be safe and very well cared for."
VICKI Dean feels an enormous sense of pride when she tells people where she works.
The hospice's accounts and payroll manager, who started at the Dougie Mac in 2000, said: "It does make a difference in how much you enjoy your job when you know how much the hospice helps people. I'm so proud to be able to say to people that I work at the Dougie Mac because everybody you speak to either knows somebody that had care here or has heard about the good work we do."
The 38-year-old, from Werrington, added: "The hospice is like a member of the community - it's so well known in this area that it is a part of Stoke-on-Trent and without it there would be a great void. You don't come to work to earn money, you come to work to help the people from this hospice to provide this great service to the people of North Staffordshire."
JOHN Mayer knows just how much care is on offer at the Dougie Mac because his mum spent her final days at the hospice.
John, a 48-year-old from Stallington who is hospice's IT manger, had only been working at the Dougie Mac for a few months when his mum was admitted.
He said: "I've been at the hospice for 19 years and it was in the first few months that my mum, Vera, was admitted. She was 62-years-old and had ovarian cancer.
"We'd been trying to care for her at home and it was just getting harder and harder and the sense of relief when she came in here was immense. We knew she'd be safe and looked after. She'd spent a lot of time in hospital and at home and it was quite isolating for her.
"She was at the hospice for four days and the care she received was superb."
MANAGING the huge reception area at the Dougie Mac puts Paula Lewis at the sharp end.
Visitors to the Blurton hospice aren't always at their best when they walk through the doors and so it is the job of Paula's team to welcome them and put them at ease.
Paula, aged 44, said: "People we see are often anxious, upset, afraid or even angry because of their personal circumstances and we are the first faces that they see.
"I always tell our staff and volunteers that they have to remember that people aren't annoyed or upset at them – the chances are they are going through a very emotional time." Paula, who has been with the Dougie Mac for 18 months, has two paid staff and a team of 80 volunteers who work a variety of hours – depending on how much time they are able to commit.
This level of cover is needed because the reception area is open between 8am and 9pm daily, seven days a week, 365 days a year – dealing with visitors, fund-raisers, patients and their relatives.
Hospice reception co-ordinator Paula, who lives in Trentham, said: "We are always on the look-out for volunteers. We need people who have good communication skills and can empathise with everyone who comes through the doors."
LESLEY Hassall knows better than most just how important the Douglas Macmillan Hospice can be to families in desperate need.
She first became involved with the charity as a 16-year-old in 1982 when she joined the staff as part of the Youth Opportunities Scheme.
Lesley became the office junior and stayed with the Blurton hospice for four years doing administrative work before leaving for a job in the NHS.
Lesley, who lives in Forsbrook with her husband Ian, said: "I always said I'd like to come back to the Dougie Mac and last year the opportunity presented itself."
She applied for a vacancy as administrator and medical secretary – a job which drew on her 25 years' experience in administrative roles with the NHS.
It involves assisting Chief Executive Michelle Roberts as well providing administrative support to the charity's board of trustees and being the medical secretary for the doctors who work on site.
Lesley, aged 46, got the job in March 2012 but two weeks' later was given the bombshell news that her mum was terminally-ill.
She said: "Mum was diagnosed with lung cancer and was very quickly using the Dougie Mac's services out in the community. I have to say that initially mum was a bit worried – having grown up with the view that 'you mustn't go in the Dougie Mac because you only come out in a box'. However, very quickly she realised how vital the help was."
Lesley's mum, Sandra Byrne, died in June of last year at the age of 67. Lesley said: "The help and support mum received was vital – especially with regard to pain relief and management towards the end. She was cared for so well at home. You just can't put a price on that kind of thing."
IF IT'S broken, needs recharging, replacing or fixing, then Peter Leyland is the man staff at the Dougie Mac turn to.
For 18 years Peter, who lives in Baddeley Edge, has been keeping things ticking over at the hospice.
He and his team of maintenance engineers look after everything from blocked drains and broken light bulbs to air conditioning systems as well as daily monitoring of the all-important oxygen tanks for patients in the in-patient unit and lodges.
No job is too big or too small and it requires Pete and his team to be on-call around-the-clock.
Peter joined the hospice in 1995 having previously worked at the mothballed Hem Heath Superpit nearby. He said: "I had been an electrical engineer with the coal board from the age of 15. I love working at the Dougie Mac. What has kept me here are the wonderful staff and the variety of the work. No two days are ever the same."
ANGELA Marsh has only been with the Dougie Mac for seven weeks but she's already settled in to her newly-created post.
The 49-year-old, from Barlaston, is the housekeeping supervisor – responsible for keeping all areas of the DMH spick and span.
She said: "There are nine of us altogether in the department – including myself – along with three volunteers.
"It is our job to keep the place looking as good as it can for the patients, visitors and staff.
"We look after everything from cleaning the carpets and the windows to emptying the bins and I am really enjoying the challenge of managing the team.
"My background is in care work and I have to say this is a lovely place to work.
"There's a wonderful family atmosphere among the staff. Everyone helps everybody else. People really go out of their way and nothing is too much trouble.
"That's just the culture here. People realise that the patients and their relatives are our priority – no matter what your job."
SINCE 2000 Jason Cannonier has been responsible for one of the most important aspects of life at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice – the food!
The 42-year-old, who lives in Blythe Bridge, first came to the DMH to provide maternity cover in the kitchen before the permanent job of chef manager came up.
Jason and his team look after all catering within the hospice – from coffee machines in the foyer to the 100 or so breakfasts, lunches and dinners served daily for patients, visitors and staff and also functions ranging from weddings to corporate and training events.
He said: "Very often patients who come here have eaten very little for days or even weeks and they just aren't interested in food.
"But we pride ourselves in the standard of the meals we provide and 365 days a year.
"We focus on home-cooked meals made with local sourced ingredients – where possible. Presentation is everything – so much so that we've had people say that it's like dining in a five star restaurant. We don't do 'institutional food' here."
SINCE July 2008 the Reverend Stephen Goodwin has been providing spiritual guidance to patients, relatives of patients and staff at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice. His previous ministry included working for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
The Rev. Goodwin said: "I knew the previous hospice chaplain very well and when the job came up I knew I had to apply for it."
Although ordained into Anglican ministry, he sees his role very much as one of providing spiritual help and support to any who need it – regardless of faith or cultural background.
The Rev. Goodwin said: "At the heart of my ministry here is a pastoral responsibility to everyone who comes through the doors.
"It is about helping people to find value in the life they have."
"What I, and the volunteers here offer, is spiritual care. We certainly don't profess to have all of the answers. When patients and their relatives come here they are often at a very difficult time in their lives and they have many questions.
"It is about helping people to find value in the life they have."