Calley-Anne Schmitz joined The Myton Hospices in May 2023 as Activities Coordinator at Myton’s Inpatient Unit in Warwick.
This brand new role was created as part of the new Respite Beds model that Myton has recently introduced. Calley has wasted no time getting stuck in to developing the role to best suit the needs of patients.
Whilst primarily focusing on respite patients, Calley’s job consists of discovering the hobbies and interests of all patients, in the hopes to enhance their wellbeing during their stay at Myton.
We focus on all aspects of care for each patient, it’s not just the clinical and medical side of care, with my role considering each individual holistically.
As an Activities Coordinator, my aim is to create the person-centred approach to individualising activities and what is meaningful to them.
Every individual has the need to feel stimulated, connected and engaged.
I support those needs by focusing on helping them continue doing the things they love to do, rekindle their interests, or discover something new that they have always wanted to try.
Having their hobbies and interests catered to whilst they are at Myton can help to ensure they get the most out of their time with us.
Completing an activity that means something to them can often balance their symptoms too and enhance their overall wellbeing. If they are receiving end of life care then this can also play a part in leading to a “good death”.
It also gives families and loved ones memories to last a lifetime.
Calley has a deeply personal reason for working in a hospice. Prior to her role at Myton, Calley has several years of experience in health and social care, working with all age groups.
However, her interest in hospice care grew when her sister was cared for at a hospice.
In 2019, my sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness and attended day hospice and was then admitted to the Inpatient Unit for her last few days.
My sister lived on her own at this time and I was pregnant and living in Germany so it was hard to care for her at the beginning.
Knowing she had the full support of the hospice and was properly cared for meant a lot. I am so appreciative of their support.
So when this role came up at Myton, I jumped at the chance. It was like the stars aligned, it fitted so well.
Knowing I can make a difference during people’s hardest times is so rewarding.
Commenting on her love of the job, Calley said:
I love how varied the job is. Everyone has different interests which makes it so fun to find an activity they will enjoy.
I’ve had one patient who loved dachshunds, so I brought my own dachshund to see her.
They absolutely loved each other, my dog curled up and fell asleep on her bed.
I also did some knitting with her too which was a new craft for me to learn.
As an activity her and her husband did together, they taught me the basics.
She spent four hours knitting a rectangle. Sadly, she deteriorated soon after so I turned what she knitted into a key ring and attached a knitted butterfly.
Her husband placed it in her hand whilst she died and he took it home to treasure forever.
He later told me that seeing her do what she loved in her last few days meant so much to him.
Giving him a lasting memory of his wife makes what I do so rewarding.
Other activities Calley is doing with patients include fingerprint art, painting or even something as simple as going for a walk and having a conversation.
It’s not really seen as an activity, or a hobby or interest, but sharing stories and having conversations can really enhance wellbeing.
As a patient, conversations are usually centred around their illness; how they are, what condition they have, what they are experiencing, and so on.
Having a conversation that isn’t necessarily focused on that can be refreshing.
Calley commented on the workforce at Myton, stating:
Everyone at Myton is so adaptive.
Situations can change in an instant on the ward but everyone handles this with professionalism and compassion.
In an often overwhelming and scary time for patients and their families, Myton is such a caring and understanding place, providing a safe environment.
I hope that my role and what we aim to do can help the misconception that hospices are miserable places.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. There is sadness of course, but lots of fun and laughter too.
We are also extremely open to talking about death and dying which is much needed in a society where so often this isn’t the case.
Join us in celebrating Hospice Care Week!