Well known for her beaming smile and bright lippy, healthcare support worker, Lynn Parkin, is one of the hospice’s longest serving members of staff and speaks fondly about her time at Dougie Mac.
“Many years ago, I had an auntie who was dying and she’d say ‘I’m not going in to that place, you only come out in a box’ which was the stigma hospices had back then. Then in 1988, I was working in a nursing home and heard Dougie Mac were looking for staff; I applied and then spent 25 years here as an auxiliary nurse on the wards. I then spent 7 years working in day therapy, supporting patients who were living well with their condition. At the start of the pandemic, the day therapy unit had to close as we were unable to meet in person. We then set up a new service and began making regular phone calls to keep in touch with our patients and their families at home.
“One thing I remember about first joining the hospice was how friendly and warm the team was. Everyone so passionate and dedicated to their jobs, nursing patients until the very end, knowing we’d done everything we could for them. Families don’t forget you when they see you in the street; months or years down the line, they’re still so grateful for the care they received – it just goes to show what an impact the staff and the hospice has.
“I remember one lady who had a pretty jumper on and I said: ‘You look lovely today.’ She turned to me and said ‘I would, Lynn, if I had two breasts.’ So I told the sister in charge what the lady said and that I really wanted to help her. The sister said ‘Then let’s help her.’ So that’s what I did, I got her a prosthetic breast and pinned it into a vest. The lady put it on, looked down and just smiled. That meant everything to me. That experience led me to set up body image workshops at Dougie Mac in conjunction with Look Good Feel Better, a cancer charity that supports those affected by cancer feel more confident and stronger in themselves.
“People love to tell you their life stories and I love that. Sometimes just being there to listen to our patients makes a huge difference to them. They might be dying or be very poorly but they’ve had a whole life and it’s a huge privilege to be there to hear what they’ve done.
“There are hard bits of the job of course, but what keeps us going is the incredible support we get from local people. Take it from me, the residents of Stoke-on-Trent are the most generous people around and we wouldn’t be Dougie Mac without our fantastic community.”