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Cuppa and cake for carers to mark Carers Week

To mark National Carers Week this week the Family Support team at Saint Francis Hospice laid on a cream tea to say a big "thank-you" to the many carers who work with patients supported by the hospice.
Staff handing out tea and cakes at our carers tea party (cropped) (cropped)
Carers and patients were served tea and cakes by members of the Family Support team including counsellors and social workers.  Children from Hall Mead school in Upminster entertained those present with a selection of songs performed by pupils from years 8, 9 and 10 including Year 8 pupil Alex Debar (pictured).

Carers Miriam Howard and Winnie Baguma at the tea partyAmong those attending was Pauline Gore a retired secretary from Dagenham with her husband Len (also pictured). Len is a former construction engineer who worked on the Millennium Dome in Greenwich among many other projects. Len has been diagnosed with lung cancer and at the end of February 2015 spent two weeks in the inpatient unit at the hospice in Havering-atte-Bower.  However after those two weeks his condition had stabilised sufficiently for him to be discharged and he now attends the hospice's Day Therapy Unit once a week on a Friday, and on some occasions also makes use of the Breathtaking class held in the Day Therapy Unit on a Thursday for patients struggling with breathing difficulties. 

Carers Miriam Howard and Winnie Baguma at the tea party
"Len was like a new person when he came home from the inpatient unit" said his wife and carer Pauline. Pauline describes the feeling she and Len have when they visit the hospice: "As soon as we walked in to the hospice there was a feeling of calm. It was just so serene. At Saint Francis Hospice the nurses and doctors are like friends who take the time to talk to me as well as Len."

Kim Morley from Romford was another carer at the cream tea event. Her husband Andy was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer, two and a half years ago and is currently a patient in the hospice's inpatient unit for the third time. On both the previous occasions Andy's condition was improved such that he could be discharged from the inpatient unit, go home and attend the Day Therapy Unit once a week instead. 

Carers Miriam Howard and Winnie Baguma at the tea party
"The care the hospice has provided has been amazing" said Kim. "All the staff from the nurses to the doctors to the cleaners ask me how Andy is and how I am. The nurses give me a bug hug and if they see me upset they taken me somewhere quiet for a chat. I've found all the staff kind, compassionate and caring - not just for the patients but also for the family and carers of those patients. A few years ago I didn't know anything about the Day Therapy Unit until I read about it in one of the hospice's magazines."

Sandy Lawless, a social worker with the hospice's Family Support tea, said: "We work in partnership with carers as much as we can, and part of Carers Week is about taking care of carers. This is our little way of pampering carers and to recognise and say thank-you for all that they do."

Today more than 85% of all patients cared for by Saint Francis Hospice are cared for in their own home or care home. To find out more about the full range of services offered by the hospice free of charge to patients, their families, and their carers, go to www.sfh.org.uk.

Carers Miriam Howard and Winnie Baguma at the tea party
Pictured: Carers Miriam Howard from Cheltenham and Winnie Baguma from Brentwood enjoy the musical entertainment form the Hall Mead School at the Carers' cream tea. Miriam and Winnie care for Jeanetta McAllister at her home in Brentwood.