Supporting carers in these exceptional times. Carers Week is 8th-14th June #carers #caring #family #wirralhospice #patientcare #makingcaringvisible #thankyou

‘Carers’ are the unpaid army of family and friends who spend many hours caring for and supporting people with physical and mental illness and disability, above and beyond the services that statutory, private and/or charitable health & social care organisations provide.

The week of 8th-14th June is national Carers Week, with a rallying call of ‘Making Caring Visible’, it’s designed to raise awareness of the estimated 6.5 million people who have unpaid caring responsibilities across the UK.

HeatherWirral Hospice St John’s spiritual care coordinator, Heather MacLeod (a little more about her later), reminded me of these lyrics, famously sung by Celine Dion*, to capture all we contemplate during national Carers Week.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you love me

Perfect!

Carers will often class themselves as, just, a wife, husband, partner, son, daughter, grandparent or other family member or friend. Their care comes from a sense of duty and a deep well of love.

We see this, close up, every single day at Wirral Hospice St John’s.

Supporting and caring for people with life limiting illnesses is at the heart of everything we do and, in order to really know our patients, to extend the care and support we provide for them, we also offer services designed to help their carers, practically, spiritually and emotionally.

In normal times we’ll see and work with carers in all of our settings, Inpatients, Outpatients, Wellbeing Centre (day services) and Hospice at Home.

Physio Room (1)The current coronavirus crisis, calling on all of us to limit direct contact and minimise all but essential travel, has inevitably altered our ways of reaching out to carers.

Early on in the pandemic even visiting in our Inpatients ward was severely restricted. We managed ways to allow a small number of closest relatives to visit loved ones by supplying face masks and other personal protective equipment and reinforcing hand washing and safety recommendations.

For the wider family we’ve been providing patients with electronic equipment, such as IPads, if they don’t have their own, so that they can see each other and chat.

james george conference poster

Although some of the patient and family services team are working from home (hello Suzanne and Co) they are set up to continue working with patients and their carers. Where we can’t meet with carers, which is in most services just now, we’re staying in touch through telephone calls and other electronic communications.

On Friday of Carers Week we brought an afternoon tea for the visitors to our inpatients to remind them how we appreciate their massive contribution to the wellbeing of their loved ones. Scones with jam and cream and a nice drink… mmmmm!

Hospice Reception (1)Enquiries about welfare benefits and signposting to emotional and psychological support, including liaison with other local agencies, while agreeing plans of action are still being handled by our professional social workers, James and Ann-Marie.

Emily Fozard. Counsellor

Bereavement counselling, facilitated by the most accomplished listener, Stella, also continues in what are especially psychologically distressing circumstances for families. (A mention here for our other counsellor, Emily, (pictured left) who is on maternity leave with all of our best wishes).

Occupational therapists, physiotherapists and exercise co-ordinators, Sarah, Miriam, Elizabeth and Tracy (hello to Katy also on maternity leave) continue to work with patients and source instruction videos for those at home with their families and other carers.

Aroma Therapy (5)We’ve had to suspend our aromatherapy service, provided in normal times by the most soothing and empathetic practitioner, Lindsey, because of the necessary close proximity of delivery. We look forward to restoring the service as soon as we can.

And, of course, the wonderful Heather MacLeod, (our spiritual care coordinator,read a little bit more about Heather here), is available to provide her heartfelt comfort and advice to people who are sometimes struggling to find meaning or peace in what are really the most challenging time of their lives.

To all those families and other carers of our patients, your loved ones, please know Wirral Hospice St John’s is here for you.

Hospice Nurses (1)

Author: Billy Howard

*Words to ‘Because you loved me’ written by Diane Warren © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management 

All photos taken pre-COVID social distancing regulations.

 

 

The ‘V’ to ‘V’ of Valiant Volunteers at Wirral Hospice St John’s #volunteers #volunteering #VolunteersWeek #hospiceheroes #wirralhospice #caring #thankyou

Volunteers Week’ is an annual celebration of the massive contribution volunteers make to the multitude of organisations doing good works in all of our communities.

It’s run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering Wendie 2across the UK.

Our Wirral Hospice St John’s volunteers add so much to the life of the hospice but, as with many organisations, the coronavirus crisis has meant that the overwhelming majority of ours, some 500 of them, have been asked to stay at home until conditions prevail which will allow them to return to us.

To say we miss them is an understatement. We miss them like crazy!

Norma 2In normal times they are simply ‘here’ for us, at the hospice and in our Wirral Community. They’re part of the hospice family, They are, very often in fact, the ‘face’ of the hospice.

  • At main, outpatients and fundraising receptions they get people to where they want to go physically or by telephone. You’ll always be greeted with a friendly ‘hello, how can I help you’.
  • Inpatient ward general duties volunteers bring patients their drinks and often stop for a friendly chat or even help patients to share their stories. In our Wellbeing Centre volunteers will also make patients a nice drink, engage them in enriching and fun activities, facilitate group chats and be ‘on hand’ to alert our nursing staff if there’s a clinical need.liz 1
  • At fundraising events there are always volunteers to direct our supporters to help them sign in, to buy cakes and refreshments and to sell raffle and tombola tickets and the like.
  • Out in the community there are some 150 volunteers who work shifts in our charity shops or at the hospice gift shop (in the run up to Christmas) to advise customers, sort out donated stock, dress windows and serve. Others help our retail team by assessing and preparing those donated items which are potentially more valuable for ebay.
  • Bill Collins with CaroleOur volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, counting all the pennies that come in from collection boxes sited all over Wirral, helping in accounts, tending to the hospice gardens, collecting lottery cash and even holding their own community fundraising gatherings.

Every single one of them is an inspiration and they choose to volunteer for many and varied reasons. Some young people like to bolster their CV and gain work experience, others, often older, retired and greatly experienced, have lived in Wirral for years and know the work of the hospice and many have also had their own personal experience of the hospice’s caring services, through spouses, family and friends.

What is also true is that they’ve always got their hands in their pockets. Not in the ‘standing around’ sense, but in their generous support of the hospice with their own money. They’re incredible people.Ann D 2

From time to time we’ve shared stories from some of our vigorous, vibrant, valuable, versatile and (often) vivacious volunteers and we’ve linked you to some of them again to recall all of their great work.

If you click on their name below it will take you to their story so, in no particular order,

Wendie Darlington: Will do whatever’s needed for Wirral Hospice St John’s

Norma Edwards: Radiating positive energy in our Wellbeing Centre

Liz MunroOur gently effective fundraising volunteer, ‘par excellence’

Bill Collins: 30+ years an inpatients ward volunteer and regular ‘Light up a Life’ poet 

Ann Dermody: At the heart of the community at our Liscard charity shop

Susan Seed: Hospice friend, supporter and volunteer, since day one!

Niamh McEvoy: A young volunteer who ‘goes for it’ in our Moreton charity shop

Geoff ShannonA charismatic former telescope engineer in our Wellbeing Centre

Marianne Sunter: Retired chemistry teacher who reacts brilliantly to any situation

Colin MiddlebroughA volunteer we can all count on

Sue AWe hope you enjoy their stories as much as we value their, and all of our other vivid volunteers, precious time and excellent company.

Here’s a list of all the ‘V‘ words you can put in front of the word ‘volunteer’ to reinforce their priceless contributions.Colin

Valiant – showing courage and determination

Valuable – extremely useful and important, worth a great deal

Valorous – great courage in the face of danger

Va Va Voom – exciting, vigorous and attractive

Marianne 1

Varied – a number of different types or elements

Vaunted – praised or boasted about

Vaulting – prepared to jump over obstacles

Venerable – accorded a great deal of respect especially because of age, wisdom or character

Veracious – speaking or representing the truth

Versatile – able to adapt or be adapted to many functions or activities

Versed – experienced or skilled in: Knowledgeable about

Vivid – intensely bright, lively and vigorous

Niamh 3

Vigilant – keeping careful watch for dangers or difficulties

Vibrant – full of energy and life

VIP’s – very important people

Vigorous – strong, healthy and full of life

Geoff

Vim – Energy and enthusiasm

Virtuous – having or showing high moral standards

Vital – absolutely necessary, essential

Vivacious – attractively lively and animated

Vocal – expressing opinions freely (or loudly)

Vroom – the idea of speed or acceleration

It’s safe to say, Wirral Hospice St John’s VIP volunteers bring a veracious, vital value and variety, to all that we do. Verily!

Author: Billy Howard

Spotlight on Matty Pree – Boxing-off an eye-catching bike ride, within the current COVID 19 ‘allowable exercise’ rules #fun #cycling #hospiceheroes #fundraising #caring #support #thankyou #staysafe

MattyMatty Pree is already a hospice hero. He’s completed three other significant bike rides since 2015 to raise funds for Wirral Hospice St John’s and now he’s just completed in a nice way, his most ‘daring’ yet!

Yes, that’s because, on Saturday 25th April, Matty cycled 18.8 miles on a special route around Northwest Wirral to sensitively comply with the lockdown restrictions of our current COVID 19 crisis. (The ride only took him an hour, which is much less than his previous or future* planned cycling fundraisers for the hospice) 

He was in training for a 193 mile ride this summer for the hospice but the coronavirus has put paid to that (look out for the *From Chepstow to CH46 in 2021). 

So he’d been thinking about what he could do to help raise some funds, stay within government guidelines but, do something eye-catching to capture the imagination?

Well, what about riding around NW Wirral wearing only his BOXERS?

Yep! Tick! Brilliant! Well in Matt! And, it certainly caught people’s attention Can we call you ‘Cyclo-Matt’ (like Speedo Mick)? (He was also clear that he would also have to wear a safety helmet though!) 

Matty's dad Ronnie and darceyI asked Matty why he supports the hospice and he told me about his Dad, Ronnie, who passed away here in 2015 after living with lung cancer which metastasised into a brain tumour. (Ronnie is pictured here with Matty’s Daughter, Darcey) 

“The hospice was absolutely brilliant with my dad. The whole team were fantastic, second to none, and made Dad, our Mum, Mary, my brother, Phil, and I feel as at home and welcome as it was possible to be.

My dad was married to mum for 43 years, he’d been a taxi driver and loved his fishing, crown green bowls and he was a dab hand at Bridge.

He was also a doting grandad to my daughter Darcey, who was only two when he passed away, and my brother, Phil’s children, Jessica and Jake.

We loved him dearly and miss him deeply but he could not have asked for better compassionate care when his illness was at its most challenging.”

Matty's dad Ronnie and Mum MaryIt’s emotional for Matty to recall but he smiles when he starts to tell me about the other bike rides he’s done in his dad’s honour and to raise funds for the hospice. (Ronnie is pictured here with Matty’s Mum, Mary)

The first one was The Wild Wales challenge. Around 100 miles of cycling taking in 10,000 feet of climbs. Spectacular views which Matty only vaguely recalls as it was both exhilarating and exhausting!

In 2017 and with his friend, Chris Iveson, he took on The Way of The Roses, over two days from Morecambe to Bridlington, up-hill and down-dale, this time for a measly 175 Miles!

Then the Ride around North Wales, this time 143.5 miles in July 2018. It was the hottest day of the year and again some of the most beautiful scenery may have been missed as Matty powered on, taking in gallons of water.

Wow, well done sir! Along the way Matty’s rides, on his lonesome or with a pal, have raised a couple of thousand pounds for the hospice, for which he has every right to be very proud.

So, on Saturday 25th April, at 12 noon he set off, for an hour, down to his ‘boxies’, the way you do, and following a circuit which startsed at home in Moreton took in Upton, Arrowe Park, the ‘Barnston Blast’, Heswall, Thurstaston, West Kirby, and through Hoylake and back home, via Moreton town centre.

If you’d like to see the route Matty took and, maybe, give the fund a little boost check out Matty’s ‘Just Giving’ page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-pree4

On finishing the circuit Matty said,

“I was a bit nervous going out in my pants at first, but after a few miles it was fine. Got lots of beeps and shouts of encouragement which was nice. One slight downside was I almost had a collision with a car, the first one since I was 19 and I was in my underpants. A car pulled out on me and I hit the side of the bonnet. I reacted quickly enough and it was a minor bump. Felt sorry for the lady driving she was a little shaken up. She apologised and offered to donate. All in all had a good ride out in my pants and the weather was great. I raised even more than I have for any of my rides, that must have been the choice of clothing! I am not sure I could cycle across Wales in a day in my boxers though.”

Matty and Son LucaNowadays he’s also got young son, Luca, alongside Darcey (now 7), looking up to their inspirational dad (pictured left).

Thank You Matty, absolutely superb!  Maybe next year’s 193 miler will top the lot!

However, when he does get around to that challenge, it’s going to be hard doing all of that distance in just his undies!!!

  Author: Billy Howard

If you’d like to take on a challenge during lockdown or even later in the year for Wirral Hospice St John’s, check out www.wirralhospice.org/getactive and as soon as you’re ready, get in touch with the Fundraising team on 0151-343-0778 or fundraising@wirralhospice.org and we’ll support you all the way!

Here’s Ronnie Pree, Matty’s dad, in his younger days, pictured below.

Matty's dad Ronnie in younger days

 

Spotlight on teenager, Finlay Costello-Smith, who is sporting a PHENOMENAL haircut for Wirral Hospice St John’s #fun #hospiceheroes #fundraising #caring #support #thankyou

Finlay 4 (2)A number of significant events recently came together for teenage Everton FC fan, Finlay Costello-Smith, to raise some funds to honour both of his late grandads, Patrick Costello and Bob Smith.

Both Patrick, in 2007, and Bob, in 2013, had lived their final days at Wirral Hospice St John’s. In 2013, Finlay’s mum, Mary, completed the BTR Liverpool half-marathon in their memory, just days after father-in-law, Bob had passed away. She raised a much appreciated £900 for the hospice.

Mary speaks glowingly of the care and support shown to both men at the hospice and how it holds a special place in all of their family’s hearts. Finlay adored his grandad Bob with whom he enjoyed really nice times as a younger child and although he was very young when grandad Patrick died, both men’s memories are kept well alive by the Costello-Smith’s and their close network of family and friends.

The month of March is significant as both men had died in that month and Finlay, now 14, had decided he wanted to do something to remember them.

Now, we all know that COVID-19 has closed schools around Wirral to all but a few children. Finlay is one of those ‘home-schooling’ and most markedly missing his mates (although we know modern technology can help us all to stay in touch, and Finlay is no different).

However, not being in school also gave him his chance to get a haircut that may have, in normal times, gone against school rules!

As we mentioned Finlay is Everton mad and one of his favourite players is Brazilian star, Richarlison. Finlay’s had a little bit of time to ‘gen’ up on a few of the Brazilian stars of the past and he’s been particularly drawn to their former national team superstar, at the time the world’s best player, Ronaldo* who was known by his countrymen as, O Fenómeno, The Phenomenon.

Finlay Ronaldo 2 (2)

(*Not to be confused with the contemporary great, Cristiano Ronaldo, a superstar himself in the modern era. Nowadays, the older Ronaldo (pictured here), has picked up a bit of a reputation for liking his food so he’s become known as ‘fat Ronaldo’ which clearly distinguishes him from his younger namesake).

Older readers might remember that in the 2002 Ronaldo had helped Brazil to win the World Cup Final (the third final he had played in and his second victory) scoring two goals in the match. They might also remember that he was sporting, what has become, an iconic hairstyle!

Ronaldo had had all of his hair shaved off, except for an ‘island’ at the front (also in the picture here) telling the press afterwards that it was to deflect them from focusing on a small injury he was carrying.

Finlay 3 (2)

So Finlay has taken the opportunity to have a severe ‘Ronaldo’ cut and to get family and friends to sponsor him, in order to raise funds for the hospice. Mum, Mary, picked up the shears on 29th March and now Finlay can emulate one of the greatest players in football history.

Finlay was also thrilled when his Just Giving page was picked up by his current idol, Richarlison, and featured on the player’s Instagram page.

So far Finlay has gathered a hair raising £700 (plus) via Just Giving and the page is open for a while longer if you click here

So we say to lifelong Evertonian, Finlay (in memory of his grandad’s and the specialist care his Mum remembers Wirral Hospice St John’s delivering to them both) the Everton FC motto, Nil Satis Nisi Optimum young man, meaning, nothing but the best!

Author: Billy Howard

“It’s Not What You Think!” Mr Bob Taylor gives us a patient’s view of Wirral Hospice St John’s #inpatients #wirralhospice #wellbeing #goodqualitycare #caring #thankyou

It's Not What You ThinkMr Bob Taylor of Eastham, who spent a little bit of time on Wirral Hospice St John’s Inpatient ward, wanted to share his thoughts about spending time at the hospice. In his writing he wanted to emphasise ‘IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK’ throughout, and these are his words below. (He also didn’t want his photo taken, so we’ve taken some of the ward teams – starting with volunteers, Sue and Barbara, ready to take patients their morning coffee/tea).

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

“My name is Bob Taylor. I have lung cancer and I would like to share my thoughts about Wirral Hospice St John’s

When you first hear the word ‘hospice’ a lot of people, myself included, think it’s the end. How wrong we are. It’s so far from it!

This is my second visit. I was admitted this time to get some pain control and to rest a little, so that I could get to a level where I can go back home.

This time I’ve been here for a couple of weeks. I really wasn’t feeling at all well when I came in, but now I know I’ll be going home again in a day or two.

Once again the hospice has done an excellent job.

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINKINWYT 3

I could write lots of positive things about the different members of staff and volunteers who attend to my symptoms and comforts. The best way I can think of is that they give all of us patients FIVE STAR care.

It’s top quality care by top quality people.

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

INWYT 2On my first visit to the hospice, as I became a little better, a lady* came and asked me what I wanted for breakfast.

Being a Smart Alec, I asked for bacon, egg, sausage, black pudding, beans and toast. She apologised because, just then, there was no black pudding! I couldn’t believe it when a few minutes later a full breakfast turned up at my bedside.

It was so fresh, the butter hadn’t fully melted into my hot toast! She then asked me if I wanted her to order some black pudding for the next day. (Nothing was too much for her).

Every meal at the hospice is cooked on-site to an excellent standard in, what I found out, is a FIVE STAR food standards authority, kitchen. (Pictured left, l-r, Margie* (cook), Toni (volunteer), Elaine (catering supervisor) and Mary (volunteer))

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

If in the future you are offered a place at Wirral Hospice St John’s for pain management, and/or symptom control and for the right type of rest, do not give it a second thought, GIVE IT A GO!”

Thank You, Mr Bob Taylor, for the kind words. Thank you also to wife, Yvonne, with all their family and friends who are also helping the hospice to raise funds, from personal donations to taking part in supporter and hospice events, they are an inspiration to everyone at Wirral Hospice St John’s.

(Bob sadly passed away in early 2020 and we have maintained this piece with the kind permission of Yvonne). RIP Bob.

Author: Billy Howard (with major contribution by Bob Taylor)

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