One of our #volunteers, John, tells us why the hospice is so special ! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

20170707_094955.jpgJohn Sutcliffe is a volunteer at Wirral Hospice where I support Day Therapy patients and work as a gardener. I was married for nearly 50 years and we have three children; two sons and one daughter, and six grandchildren. All live locally – I’m chief babysitter!

I was brought up in Wallasey and worked away at sea but when I returned I met Maria, a nurse from Upton who worked at Clatterbridge. We were married in 1969. Maria worked as a nurse for 40 years and I worked for Levers and Group 4 security. Maria and I had a common interest in travel and shared many happy holidays together. My main interests now are gardening and supporting Liverpool football Club.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
Approximately 15 years ago Maria was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which was when I first became involved in the hospice. Whilst Maria was coming to the hospice, I was involved in the Carers group and the Patients and Carers feedback group. Since losing Maria in 2015 I have continued to support the feedback group and have attended the Bereavement Support group and now, volunteering as a gardener and supporter of patients in the Day Therapy Unit.

During Maria’s time as a patient she was fortunate to experience all the services provided – initially as an outpatient, then attending the weekly Day Therapy sessions, then support back at home via the Hospice at Home service and also as an Inpatient. Throughout this time we saw the hospice grow and change through a number of building developments which created “The Hub” café, the new Outpatients department and the multi-disciplinary / patient and family support team areas. During the building works the services we attended were relocated but this did not compromise the amazing all round care we received from the wonderful doctors, clinical team and volunteers.

Being a member of the Patient Involvement group has been a great way for me to give back to the hospice: I was consulted on processes, leaflets and services and I also carried out a Healthcare inspection with external governing bodies which was a chance to share our positive experience of hospice care.

My volunteer role with Day Therapy patients is great as I am gardening with them – this is proving to be a wonderful alternative therapy, and even better we are now producing potatoes, tomatoes, onions and more that we can then pass to the kitchen to use which is really satisfying!

What are your Hospice Highlights?
The main highlight for me has to be the hospice staff – nothing is too much effort. Throughout all the services we experienced, the staff would go above and beyond to support not just Maria but myself and all the family.

When Maria attended her weekly Day Therapy session, I was invited to stay and attend a Carers group which was specifically for patients’ partners and/or their careers. The team who ran this provided wonderful opportunity for support where, over coffee and cake you could ask questions, talk through day to day issues and share experiences of life as a career with others going through the same thing, which helped to prepare you for the journey ahead.

The bereavement support was also a highlight for me – After some initial one to one counselling I joined a bereavement support group where we met every two weeks for about two years. These people became friends for life as we still meet up now and have even been away on holiday together!

Now a big highlight for me is to work with patients in Day Therapy who I know will benefit from their time here because they are going to be made to feel well. I will never forget what one of the consultants said to me when Maria was a Day Therapy patient “You don’t come here to die, you come here for us to control your medication, control your pain and get you home”.

What does hospice care mean to you?
For me the hospice care means the personal touch, where the staff have time to listen not just to the patient, but to the partners, the children and the extended family who are just as important to them. The wonderful team of medics and nurses have the skills to support families when they really do need it.

I couldn’t put a rating on Wirral Hospice – if I did it would be a million stars! You’re made to feel like family and it starts to feel like home.

I can never repay the team at Wirral hospice for what they did but volunteering is my way of giving something back.

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One of our patients, Tommy, tells us how he’s gone from repairing 40tonne wagons to #woodcarving ! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

Tommy Collins 1Tommy Collins was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and an operation to remove it in 2001. 17 years down the line and Tommy has been receiving chemotherapy. His specialist referred Tommy to Wirral Hospice St John’s.

“The only word that stayed with me during our conversation was ‘hospice’. I assumed you walked into a hospice to get fitted with a wooden overcoat to be carried out in so I was not looking forward to my first visit!

I arrive with a closed mind and was trying to come to terms with why I was here. The staff and volunteers greeted us with a smile and a cup of tea, and I was introduced to other patients. I had an appointment with one of the consultants, which was followed by a lunch (soup and a sandwich). Back to the Day Therapy room for some relaxation exercises then time for home.

I had much to think about but was not sure the hospice was for me; it was not what I’d imagined. I decide to give it another go next week though just to see.

Having returned the following week, things became clearer and I received good advice and information about health, social and financial matters and details of care support teams I could access for help. I was also given help in managing fatigue and breathlessness with COPD and met with a counsellor, which proved very helpful.

I was introduced to the craft table and given a lump of clay. I used to repair 40 tonne wagons on the side of motorways, so clay stood no chance and I made two mushrooms successfully!

I soon got around to making a nuisance of myself but I think I have helped to brighten the day for others a little. I have come to really look forward to my visits!

As well as clay mushrooms, I’ve also started making lots of wooden pieces: a wishing well, garden chair, tables, cake stands, planters and lots of bowls. I have really enjoyed this. It’s a good distraction for me and I find working with natural materials very therapeutic.

I would advise anyone to give the hospice a go if they are unsure but have been referred to it. Please don’t let the word ‘hospice’ put you off – they have been so supportive, not only to me but to my wife too. We have been given a refreshed perspective on my illness and everyone has been so supportive, I can’t thank the hospice team enough.”

Tommy’s wooden pieces will shortly be for sale in our Facebook shop – watch this space!

Pic with staff and vols

Make A Will Month – April 2015 #futureplanning #family #charity

wirral_hospice_extension_square_july_2014Making a legally valid will is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your loved ones are provided for when you are no longer around to look out for them.

Many people do not want to consider making a will yet or think that they will get to it another time, or they may even be worried about the cost of it.

Unfortunately in this country, if your wishes are not drawn up officially then legally your assets are at the mercy of the government, which could leave behind big problems for your loved ones that could take many years to sort out.

If you have assets of any kind and loved ones you would like to look after, it’s crucial that you have a will. The law does not recognise unmarried couples either so if one of you dies suddenly without a will, your partner could be left without anything.

Wills are legally-binding documents and although you can make wills online cheaply and even for free, it is advisable to get professional support because even small errors could cause big problems for the future.

It can usually cost in the region of £150+ for a single will and £250+ for a double will. More complex estates, for example those involving several properties, savings accounts or business assets can take much longer to work on and are understandably more expensive.

Wirral Hospice St John’s has formed partnerships with a number of local solicitors who are all willing to draw up wills at their own expense throughout April.

However, the solicitors are requesting that individuals make a fair donation to the Hospice in return for this service, which is a suggested minimum donation of £80 for a single will and £150 for a double will.

Appointments need to be booked in advance with each of the participating solicitors. Slots will fill up very quickly; early booking is advised so as not to be disappointed!

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Dr Catherine Hayle about broadening range of illnesses that need #hospicecare #familiesmatter

wirral_hospice_catherine_hayleWhen 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.” Read the rest of this entry »

Dr Fawad Ahmad about our work in the community #hospicecare #familiesmatter

wirral_hospice_fawad_ahmadOver the last few weeks we have been talking about Wirral Hospice St John’s reaching out into the community, and the phrase ‘Hospice without walls’ has been used. In essence, this is giving patients who are not actually staying in the Hospice access to the services and benefits it can offer. It allows them to remain in their own homes during what can be a very difficult phase of their lives.

Palliative care consultant Dr Fawad Ahmad is a crucial member of the team that is turning the phrase into reality. Within the Hospice he takes responsibility for eight of the beds in the 16-bed Inpatient Unit. In addition, he and his consultant colleague, Dr Helen Emms, spend much of their time out in the community.

“We go to the homes of patients who cannot attend Outpatient Clinics for one reason or another. We get requests from their GP, the district nurse or the Community Palliative Care team, and we carry out assessments with a holistic view, looking at patients’ physical, psychological and spiritual needs, as well as their social conditions.

Together with whoever made the referral, the patient themselves and their families and carers we aim to devise a needs-based plan resulting in the best possible care for the patient.” Read the rest of this entry »

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