Last year our Hospice at Home team delivered bespoke palliative care to 466 patients and made 2,756 visits to homes and care homes. Yet many people are still not aware of this valuable service the charity provides and the difference it can make to people who wish to spend their final weeks or days in the comfort of their home.
Samantha knew about Saint Francis Hospice but she had never heard of its Hospice at Home service until her dad Alfred Robinson, 74, was diagnosed with cancer and given just days to live.
"I didn't want my dad to go into a care home and I knew I wanted the hospice involved," said Samantha, who runs Samantha Flowers in Collier Row.
"My aunt had passed away at Saint Francis Hospice around 15 years ago and working in my business I have heard a lot about the hospice.
"So after I was told about Hospice at Home and I thought it would be good for him."
Alfred had been living with dementia for many years but had managed to remain relatively independent with the support of Samantha as his main carer.
But the great grandfather's health deteriorated rapidly last Autumn and what was initially believed to be a severe chest infection was finally diagnosed in January as stage 4 cancer of the neck, pelvis and spine. Samantha with her dad Alfred
With a prognosis of just weeks to a month, one of the hospice's Clinical Nurse Specialists visited Alfred on January 23rd.
Following her assessment and discussions with Samantha, he was referred to Hospice at Home so he could benefit from the same standard of patient-centred palliative care he would have received at the hospice.
"I was given the option of moving him into the hospice but I said no because he was so unwell and having Hospice at Home would be like having the hospice with him in his home," said the mother of five, who lives in Brentwood.
"It was such a stressful time.
"I couldn't be there 24/7 as I still had a 14-year-old at home and I was running a business too."
Over the next few days the Hospice at Home team kept in touch with Samantha so she knew they were available if she needed their support.
And on one evening, Hospice at Home arranged for overnight support to make sure Alfred was comfortable and enable Samantha to rest.
"I felt so comfortable with the ladies that I was able to leave dad and go home," she said.
Alfred died peacefully on January 26th and while her experience with the hospice was brief, Samantha was overwhelmed by the care and compassion Alfred received and the support she had been given.
"I had been in denial," said Samantha. "I thought he would prove everyone wrong.
"I knew he was ill but I didn't think it would be that quick.
"I only had a few days experience with Hospice at Home but what an impact they made.
"They took a whole lot of weight off my shoulders.
"Everybody I encountered was so lovely and compassionate.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart."