When Dame Cicely Saunders founded the Hospice movement in 1967, she was primarily concerned with cancer patients. In recent years thinking has moved on, and now Hospice services are opening up to patients based on their needs, not just their diagnoses. In other words, people with illnesses other than cancer who are in need of palliative care can now access Hospice care.
This is an aspect of Hospice care that Wirral Hospice St John’s is embracing and it’s a key focus to develop our work in this area. When Dr Catherine Hayle joined the organisation as a locum Consultant in Palliative Medicine, her role was to develop the Hospice services specifically in relation to caring for the needs of patients with non-malignant conditions, including, for example, chronic heart, kidney and lung disease.
Much of Catherine’s time has been taken up with putting the word out to the GPs, the hospital teams, and meeting with older people in Wirral, to let them know that the Hospice care is available to all patients who need it.
“In just a year we have seen a threefold increase in non-cancer referrals. Improvements in treatment have been so great that now two out of three cancer patients live for more than five years after diagnosis. Cancer, although very serious, can now be considered to be a chronic illness, in the way that respiratory disease and heart failure are.”
At the same time as expanding the Hospice services, Wirral Hospice St John’s has been renovating and refurbishing the oldest remaining part of the main Hospice, which now the actual building work is complete is currently being equipped and furnished. Catherine is enthusiastic about the benefits that the Hospice’s new facilities will bring.
“This is a really exciting time for the Hospice. The new extension will enable us to promote integration of care by working closely with external health and social professionals to share information and skills. It will enable us to make carer and family support more accessible. And, most importantly, the new information centre on site will help to empower patients who are interested in self-management to understand and be fully involved in their own care.
At a more fundamental level, facilities such as piped oxygen in the Day Therapy rooms will enable people with illnesses such as pulmonary fibrosis to feel confident about attending sessions at the Hospice. A number of other conditions will benefit greatly from the piped oxygen too.”
By taking a holistic view, the Hospice aims to help all patients with serious long-term conditions that can’t be cured live the best possible life as comfortably as they can.
“The Hospice has been able to continue to develop its care because of the Wirral community. Thank you for supporting our Families Matter Appeal!”