When thinking about the people who make our expert and compassionate palliative care possible, many think of our nurses, doctors and care staff. However, there are many working alongside our medical team who make sure our care can continue, like Natalie and James at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
This Hospice Care week, we’re celebrating the amazing work of these teams, and want to introduce you to Natalie Cox and James Ferguson, Estate Supervisor and Maintenance Assistant at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
Little things behind the scenes help make a difference
As Maintenance Assistant, James fixes anything and everything. “It could be a phone not working, a light bulb needing changing or finding the source of a water leak. At the start of each day I check the log book and get to work. No two days are the same.”
“I have always loved working with my hands and with tools and I get to do this here.”
Natalie adds, “Every day we come in and do spot checks to make sure that the building and surrounding area is welcoming and safe. We look for anything which may have fallen or James might jet wash the front steps to get rid of any green moss to make them safe. It’s the little things behind the scenes things we do that help make a difference.”
“In my role I also coordinate with contractors about specialist work, and manage the corporate volunteer groups who come in to help with projects around the hospice.”
“We have one corporate group a month and they love working in our peaceful and tranquil grounds, be that relaying gravel, painting our sheds or cleaning out the gullies. The people who come in love it and we love too, as a big group of people can achieve a lot in a short space of time. We both benefit from it.”
Sue Ryder has a great name and we meet so many people
“I really enjoy working here as it is so varied, I love the place and I have great friends here. It’s great working with James too. You can’t ask for a better person to work with. We both get on really well.”
“I worked in housekeeping before I applied for a maintenance assistant role at the hospice. I like doing things with my hands and fixing things.”
“I really enjoy working for Sue Ryder – the charity has such a great name and you get to meet so many people.”
James added, “I often see patients or families enjoying time in our grounds and I will stop and talk to them. It’s the care given to our patients and their families which inspired me to take part in the Cheltenham Half Marathon. Sue Ryder is the official charity and I had never done a half marathon before so I thought why not? I love a challenge and once I start I don’t stop, so I have run for Sue Ryder at the Cheltenham Half three times in the past three years.”
Hospices are not what you think they are
When the pair are asked by friends where they work they usually get asked how can they work in a hospice. Natalie said, “When I tell people I work in a hospice, many people ask ‘how do you work in a place like that?’ I tell them it is not what you expect. You can’t describe it until you experience it.”
“It really is not what you think it is. People think hospices are dark, depressing and miserable places but that’s far from the truth. Hospices are full of light, laughter and comfort. Even at bad times there can be happiness.”
Spotting wildlife and ancient graffiti
James and Natalie see lots of things many people don’t get to see around the hospice too. James said, “We often start early and in the quiet mornings we see deer, foxes, jays, heron, green woodpeckers, ducklings and geese. The list of wildlife is endless really and changes with the season.”
They also get to see parts of the hospice many other members of staff don’t get to see. James shares, “We have a huge attic space above one of our wards on the inpatient unit which is as big as a church hall, and a cellar area under the stairs which now houses our lift unit.”
Natalie adds, “I love spotting little details around the building. We have we have lots of historic graffiti – witches marks, people’s initials and birth dates - old nails in the wall put there hundreds of years ago, carvings under the eaves of the roof. It’s fascinating. When working out in the grounds we often find old bits of pottery or bottles too.”
We work as one team with our amazing volunteers
Natalie and James are supported by a team of maintenance volunteers and James says that they would be lost without them, “I really enjoy working with our amazing team of maintenance volunteers. They’re a really great team and all have brilliant and varied skills to bring to the table. I want to say thanks to them.”
Natalie adds, “I need to give a special mention to our 25 garden volunteers and head gardener too. They all do such an amazing job of making sure our grounds always look so beautiful no matter the time of year.”
“Having volunteers work alongside us makes it a good atmosphere and we work together as one team – staff and volunteers. We are all part of the Sue Ryder family and feel so supported. Throughout the hospice – from our reception to our inpatient unit to our day hospice to our family support and fundraising team everyone is so good at what they do and so passionate about the care given here.”
“It’s an honour to be part of the team here who do all they can to be there for local families when it matters.”
Want to join the volunteer team at the hospice? Find out more information on volunteering roles.
Fancy taking on a challenge like James? See our list of events and challenges raising vital funds for our hospices and they care they give.
Maintenance team at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice
Natalie Cox and James Ferguson work on the maintenance team at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, and work alongside our team of nurses, doctors and care staff to make sure our expert and compassionate palliative care services can be given from our Gloucestershire base.