Tackling the Asian community’s misconceptions about hospices

Fayyaz Ali at St Catherine's Hospice with Jimmy Brash
Fayyaz Ali at St Catherine's Hospice with Jimmy Brash
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St Catherine’s Hospice cares for people of all faiths and backgrounds affected by life-limiting conditions. AASMA DAY talks with a man whose mother spent her last days at the hospice and who now wants to break down misconceptions about hospice care in the Asian community.

Many Asian families believe caring for a poorly relative is something that should be done at home, and they are reluctant to accept help and support from hospices.

However, Fayyaz Ali whose mother Zubeda spent her last days in peace and comfort at St Catherine’s Hospice, knows how invaluable the support of the hospice is and is sharing his experience to help break down barriers to hospice care which often exist in Asian communities.

Fayyaz, of Southern Avenue, Preston, says the care his mother received on the hospice made the family realise what a difference St Catherine’s can make.

He says his mum found “comfort and peace” from the cancer she was suffering with thanks to the care she received and he wants to thank staff for all they did to look after not only her but the extended family.

Fayyaz says: “We are so thankful those last few weeks were as painless and comfortable as possible and grateful for the precious time we were able to spend with her in her final days away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”

Fayyaz, a business analyst at the University of Central Lancashire, says he believes many families in the local Asian community who might benefit from referral to the hospice would turn it down – because they think it does not fit with their culture.

He explains: “When mum said she didn’t want to go home after receiving the diagnosis her cancer was incurable, we were surprised.

“Some members of the family were adamant that if there was a place available for her at St Catherine’s, then she should take it. However, other members of the family weren’t as easily convinced.

“In our culture, hospice care can be frowned upon because they think caring for each other should stay in the family. But it’s about making sure your loved one receives the expert care they need.

“We have a large family and relatives were coming from all over the country to visit and help out.

“It wasn’t the case that there weren’t enough of us who were willing to look after our mum. It was about the fact she could be better cared for at St Catherine’s.”

Fayyaz also praised the friendly reception he and his family received and the flexibility they enjoyed – which was particularly important since Zubeda’s stay at St Catherine’s coincided with the Islamic month of Ramadan when Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.

Fayyaz says: “There were always lots of people coming to visit – as is common in our culture – and staff were so welcoming to everyone.

“Because of Ramadan, we’d often be there later at night and visitors would be eating because that was the only time they were able to.

“It meant we didn’t have to miss out on time with our mother and made it easier to observe our fast.

“Most importantly, St Catherine’s Hospice gave us what we really needed – time to say things we needed to say and spend time with our mother knowing she was comfortable and not in pain.

“This has helped give us closure as we move forward and take comfort in the fact she is now resting in peace.

“I hope by sharing our experiences, other families, particularly in Asian communities who might be sceptical or afraid of the hospice, will realise what a special place it is and what wonderful work goes on there.”

Jimmy Brash, director of care at St Catherine’s Hospice, says: “I am pleased the hospice was able to be of help to Zubeda and her family at this difficult time.

“We are always grateful for feedback from those who used our services and we’d like to thank Fayyaz. I hope it will help others understand the value of hospice care.

“Hospice care is frequently misunderstood. Our aim is to use our expertise in the management of pain and other symptoms to help patients and their families in a way that suits their needs.

“Thank you again to Fayyaz and his family for sharing their experiences.”