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Hospice Care Week: Time to shout about our outstanding care and support services
Hospice Care is special and people are often surprised by the wide range of specialist end of life care services we provide to patients and their families.
As part of Hospice Care Week (8-14th October), we will be sharing the stories of patients whose health and well-being has improved as a result of the care and support they have experienced at the Hospice.
We will also share key facts about our services as well as raising awareness of our ongoing work to care and support people who are affected by a wide range of end of life conditions.
A very common misconception of hospices is that they only care for people with cancer.
Over the past year we cared for 1,693 patients - 30% of whom had non-malignant illnesses compared to just 5% in 2007/8.
To help us reach out to patients with non-cancer related conditions including heart, liver and kidney failure as well as dementia and learning difficulties, we've developed 11 special interest groups and works closely with healthcare professionals in the community.
Our latest clinic for people with advanced neurodegenerative disease began on Tuesday, 25th September.
It is open to anyone with a neurological life-limiting illness and includes a carer 'drop in' service and medial support.
The monthly sessions are led by Dr Gemma Constable, together with the Specialist Community and Crisis Support team, and take place at the Hospice.
Patients are also invited to take part in an exercise class which is run by our physiotherapists to help improve their range of movement and strengthen muscles as well as giving them the chance to socialise with other people in a similar situation.
"We care for people with a wide range of neuro degenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis as they have palliative care needs and may be feeling isolated.
"It is important to focus on these people and widen our access so we can start developing relationships with them and offer more services to support them."
Below are the case studies of just a few of our patients who have benefited from our services.
Analisia, 44, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her faith is very important to her.
So when she was admitted to the inpatient unit for two weeks earlier this year, she spent time with members of the pastoral care team and said it really helped her.
"One of the things about the hospice is that it not only looked after me physically but also in other ways that really mattered to me such as my family and my spiritual well-being," said Analisia, who has been battling ovarian cancer since 2014.
"Everyone I met was really respectful and it helped me to have someone there to listen and be able to talk to about my beliefs.
"They were so patient too. There were times when I didn't feel like talking but they would always come back and be there to listen when I was ready."
Terry, 67, has Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, and has been under the care of the hospice for the past 18 months.
In the past year he has been attending the weekly breathing and exercise classes to help with his mobility and breathing.
The grandfather was also a keen gardener and has signed up to our All Seasons Gardening project, which is aimed at giving patients a chance to learn a new skill or maintain an interest they thought they could no longer manage.
"The breathing classes on a Monday have helped me to cope with my illness," said Terry.
"It is nice to be able to ask questions if you have got things happening that affect your breathing.
"Sometimes part of the exercise is blowing bubbles; when you blow bubbles, you are exercising your lungs and controlling your breathing.
"I also attend the exercise class on a Friday.
"The morning starts off with a cup of tea and a chat and then the class begins with a warm up lifting our arms and legs.
"It really helps me as I am doing exercises I would not normally do, especially the exercises on my arms, and I find the chest exercises really help to get my lungs going too.
"The main thing is it gives you a chance to get out, have a laugh and a joke and get each other through what you are going through."
Shirley, 78, has breast cancer with secondary's to the lungs and she has been receiving complementary therapy support over the last six years.
The primary issue has been lymphoedema in the right arm and Shirley has experienced manual lymphatic drainage, massage and aromatherapy to reduce the fluid and swelling, improve movement and ease the pain in her arm, neck and shoulders.
"The people who look after me work wonders," said Shirley, who is also supported by our Family Support Services team and the Specialist Community and Crisis Support team.
"I go out feeling a lot lighter, I have more movement in my arm and I feel happier in my mind.
"I have the treatment on my arm every three weeks and I would not be without it.
"I love coming here; it is such a happy place.
"You walk in and it is so peaceful and the gardens are so beautiful and everyone you come into contact with has a friendly smile on their face."
The team also ensure Shirley has the correct compression garment, advise her on diet, skin care and exercise so that treatment continues at home.
Alex, 59, has lung cancer and has been under the care of the hospice since May 2018.
His condition left him unable to return to work and he was referred to Sandy Lawless, our social worker within our Family Support Services team.
Since then Sandy has been ensuring Alex is aware of grants and services he is entitled to and helping him complete the complicated applications and forms necessary to access the funding and appropriate accommodation.
"There is no way in a million years I would have managed without Sandy's help," said Alex, who is also supported by our Specialist Community and Crisis Support team and physiotherapy to help with his breathing.
"She is very patient, kind and I know she is there for me.
"I feel Sandy has pushed her way through a brick wall for me.
"She has helped me to apply for grants and to fill in forms.
"She also helped me access financial support after I was unable to return to work."