Trinity Hospice’s medical director Dr Susan Salt says we need to smash death taboo as she leaves to become a priest
The medical director at Trinity Hospice in Bispham is leaving, and will train as a priest.
Dr Susan Salt will leave the hospice, in Low Moor Road, after 12 years to join the Church of England.
She said: “Trinity is an organisation that cares – not just about the patients and families, but also about its staff. To walk away from it all will be incredibly painful, but I do feel I am leaving Trinity in a very good position.
“It’s hard to describe how big it feels to be moving on. It’s so exciting to have the privilege and opportunity to do something different at my time of life; to actually be given the opportunity to take up a new profession.”
Dr Salt joined the hospice in 2007 when its founder Dr David Cooper announced he was retiring.
Since then, she has seen a lot of changes, including in how medical conditions are diagnosed and treated, which has transformed the way Trinity cares for people.
She said: “The complexity of illness is definitely increasing – because people are living longer they get more complex symptoms which means we are constantly being challenged to do more.”
Dr Salt also said there had been a shift in people’s attitude towards death and dying, but said more still needs to be done.
“Death and dying will always be a big taboo,” she said. “It’s the final mystery – the final point in our lives which raises huge questions about who we are and what’s left when we’re gone.
“The whole essence of hospices and palliative care is about living until the moment that we die.
“If we are brave enough to think about death and dying we can live our lives to the best of our ability in as full a way as we can.”.
Dr Salt, who leaves this month, said she had been privileged to have been welcomed into families at a difficult time, and will take that with her as she leaves.
She added: “Our patients and their families are huge sources of inspiration.
“Those who I meet and get involved with deal with the pain and stress of their lives coming to an end with such strength and dignity that they make me feel very humble.”
“It is a privilege for us to walk alongside these families and to be part of their lives for a very short time, albeit a very poignant and private time.”
Dr Salt will be ordained as a deacon at Blackburn Cathedral in June, before continuing her training in a rural parish near Beacon Fell before becoming a priest next year.
The Rev Matt Allen, from the Blackburn Diocese, said: “It has been a delight to be involved in Susan’s training for ordained ministry over the past couple of years.
“I am convinced that she will be a person of faith, hope and love among those whom she will serve.”