Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice

Majabeen Ali's story

Majabeen Ali was one of the first South-Asian volunteers at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice and is now our cultural liaison officer, the first at any hospice in Scotland. The hospice’s work in the community was recognised with a Charity Champion award in 2016. Majabeen works to explain to ethnic minorities that the hospice’s doors are open to them.

I remember when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer, I didn’t know what a hospice was. But because we lived in the south side of Glasgow, one of the community nurses transferred her to the hospice and that’s where my mother-in-law received end-of-life care. That was the first time I visited the hospice at Carlton Place.

The hospice isn’t about the patient, it’s about the whole family, and that’s what touched us the most. We were allowed to come here at any time of the day, we could sleep here and there were no restrictions in the number of visitors. We were allowed to read the Quoran, and we were able to go to a prayer room.

I noticed that this was a service my community didn’t know about and I wanted to be a part of it, to take it out to our communities. I knew we might have differences in religions but the cultural aspects are the same: we have families, we have denials in acceptance that the patient is at the end of life. I felt I had to do something.

I volunteered for two years and have been a member of staff for another six years. I did a scoping exercise at first, I had leaflets translated into others languages, such as Urdu, Punjabi, Polish and Arabic. In the prayer room we set up prayer boxes with items for every faith. We also have ablution facilities.

My role is to liaise with ethnic minority communities and with health professionals. My first steps were to go back out into the community - the gurdwara and the mosques. I would speak about hospice care, end-of-life care, what palliative care is and explaining that this is a place where they can come.

There are assumptions by health professionals that these communities will look after their loved ones themselves and that they are coping. But that doesn’t happen now because it is third and fourth generations. And that’s what is making a big difference because I can see we have had a rise in the number of referrals. This is a free service and our community should be using it.

We now have 60 volunteers from different ethnic backgrounds but it has been hard.

Next month I’ll be speaking on local radio station Awaz FM about the hospice – it’s the perfect way to reach people, to let them know it’s about the patients and families but also about the communities.

I have been able to provide awareness of the hospice, bring people into the hospice, show them what a hospice is and that it’s not a place to die. It’s about pain management control, it’s not just about coming into the hospice but about our services in a patient’s  home too.

We need more young people to volunteer and get involved in fundraising. I’d love to hear from them.

I feel if I am able to help one person in one way or another it has made a difference in their end-of-life care. That leaves me contented that I have been able to help.

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