St Richard’s Hospice is joining forces with more than 100 other hospices across the UK to help raise public awareness about the role hospices play in supporting end of life care.
The theme of this year’s Hospice Care Week (5th–11th October) is ‘Connecting Care’. During the week, St Richard’s Hospice will be offering a window into the daily routines of hospice staff, patients and volunteers and how the hospice helps connect patients, healthcare providers and local communities.
Often people believe that patients only go to a hospice to spend their final days but in fact St Richard’s Hospice cares for the majority of its patients over many months in their own homes or local community, coordinating the care patients receive and educating staff and volunteers working in settings beyond hospices, including care homes and hospitals.
Connecting student nurses with end of life skills
Here at St Richard’s, we are deeply committed to supporting healthcare professionals to continually improve their skills and understanding of the benefits of joined up compassionate care, offering palliative care training to those working in hospitals, care homes and the community.
We are proud that a training scheme offered by us in partnership with the University of Worcester has been recognised with a prestigious nursing award. The project, which helps student nurses be the best that they can be when caring for patients and their loved ones at the end of life, has been shortlisted in the cancer nursing category of the 2015 Nursing Times Awards.
The project recognises that specialist nurses are in an ideal position to support and influence nurses of the future, ensuring that more patients receive high quality joined up end of life care. The project nominated for this award has had a direct impact on the way students work each day, giving them enhanced confidence, knowledge and practical skills, putting them in a more confident position when they meet similar situations. The judges described the project as an ‘outstanding achievement’ and demonstrated that end of life care is everyone’s business.”
Vanessa Gibson, Community Nursing Services Manager, said, “We know that as specialist community nurses we can do more to support and influence nurses of the future and therefore ensure more patients receive a skilled palliative approach. Our project has a direct impact on the way students work each day. They leave the project with enhanced confidence, knowledge and practical skills.”
Community Volunteers – giving that extra helping hand
Marilyn Johnson has been a dedicated hospice volunteer for the last 15 years. Twice a month she supports patients in St Richard’s Day Hospice as well as being an active member of the Community Volunteer team. This group of 50 trained volunteers currently helps in the region of 50 patients a month, supporting them with shopping, companionship, and household tasks.
Marilyn, 70, explained, “I feel very privileged to have met all the special people over the years including patients, relatives, staff and other volunteers. It’s very rewarding being a volunteer. Everybody gains so much from it.
“I really enjoy walking Otto for John and Ruth and I know how much he means to them. Previously I have been supporting a patient who had hospice care at home. I would regularly pop in for tea and a chat and we became friends. His wife was able to go to the hospice carers’ group knowing he had company. The hospice and everything it offers is invaluable to some people’s lives.”
St Richard’s connects healthcare professionals
We have recently expanded its specialist nursing team with a Secondary Breast Care Nurse who will work closely with the oncology team at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to offer co-ordinated nursing care and support to patients with secondary breast cancer. The project is one of the first in the country to provide coordinated care in this way and it is hoped that patients will quickly reap the benefits of this new joined up approach.
Lynne Colbourne will provide a vital link between all those caring for each patient, including oncology and breast surgery teams, GPs, hospice and community teams, to ensure that patients receive high quality, joined up care. Lynne will offer patients useful advice about their treatment and how to manage any side effects they may be experiencing, and help them navigate what can seem a very confusing process.
Lynne said; “The service is very new and we are evolving and adapting as we better understand how patients want to be able to use the service. At the moment we are asking patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer their views so that we can design a service that best meets their needs.”
Mark Jackson, Chief Executive at St Richard’s Hospice, said; “We are delighted to support this national awareness raising campaign. We will be encouraging our supporters to share their stories and memories of hospice care, especially through social media, to help spread the word that hospice care can help connect patients with others in similar situations, connect bereaved families and connect healthcare professionals to ensure that patients get the best possible coordinated care.”
Look out for articles about our care in local newspapers and newsletters, on our Inspirational Blog and on our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram pages, and get involved by sharing our messages and joining the conversation; post about how your role helps to connect care and what St Richard’s means to you.