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P-38 Morecambe bay to beijing – a hospice journey from tragedy to friendship
  1. Sue McGraw
  1. St John’s Hospice, Lancaster and South Lakes, UK


As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations in 2016 we organised our first overseas challenge to the Great Wall of China. Morecambe has a tragic history with the Chinese community because of the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster in 2004. Working with the local Chinese community we launched the trek and persuaded 31 people to make the journey. The Chinese community wholeheartedly supported our ambition to do something positive to bring the two parts of the world together in a constructive way. After a year of fundraising, the campaign raised almost £100 k net. On the last day of the trek a small group visited the Hospice in Beijing. We were welcomed by the Hospice President, shown around the ward, attended a ‘Day Hospice’ session and exchanged gifts. Although the Beijing hospice was full to capacity and felt chaotic at times, the professionals caring for the patients had the same unique ethos that we do in our hospice. Indeed, their values of Care, Compassion and Collaboration mirror our own hospice values. We discussed views of death and dying with our Chinese hosts. Their approach to spiritual care was different as patients were mainly Buddhists and were quite happy to discuss their ‘next life’ plans with us. One woman told us she was definitely coming back as a man! A group of Buddhist monks lived in the courtyard of the hospice and were always on hand to help the transition from one life to the next. Since our return, we have continued to work closely with the Chinese community via a network group called ‘Communities Together’. We are planning a ‘Faith at the end of Life’ workshop in November where representatives from all the major faith groups and communities in our area will discuss attitudes, customs and beliefs around death and dying.

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