Spotlight On: Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes. The Hidden Emergency Service. #hospicecare #health #wellbeing #inpatients #outpatients #heroes

Blood Bikes Norman and PeterSpeedy analysis of blood samples is essential for assessing the most appropriate treatment for our patients at Wirral Hospice St John’s. Both outpatients and inpatients benefit from such tests which are, predominantly, carried out at Arrowe Park Hospital.

So for the most efficient transfer to the lab, we’ve been building our partnership with the brilliant team at Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes (MCBB) over the past few months.

I met with trustee of MCBB, Norman Corke, alongside rider Peter Preston, (pictured here l-r), to find out a little more about the motivation of volunteers, day to day operations and what happens behind the scenes to make it all work.

Blood Bikes are an essential support to many parts of the NHS, and now also the hospice. What is more is, they provide their fantastic service costing us, precisely, zero, zilch, gratis, it’s FREE!

These lads and ladies who you’ll see on the highways and byways in their bright yellow, hi-vis jackets, emblazoned with the word ‘BLOOD’ on their backs, are delivering fluid samples, boxes of blood, platelets, plasma, medication and even litres and litres of donated breast milk, and doing it all ‘just to put something back into society!’ Wow, WHAT?

Yes, many use their own bikes, there’s a shared love of motorcycles, and they don’t even claim their petrol expenses! They are literally Angels (not, you’ll understand, Hells Angels!)

Blood Bikes Peter

As a rider, Peter (pictured here on his bike), can speak at first-hand about the kinds of incentive that draw volunteers to blood bikes.

“Everybody has a personal reason for getting involved. Mine is that I’m so grateful to the NHS which has helped me in my recovery, these past thirteen years, from esophageal cancer. We all love our bikes, obviously, and Blood Bikes gives us the perfect excuse to do exactly what we love for the most amazing causes.

We hardly ever know exactly why a particular delivery is important but I’ve had many instances of grateful family members approaching me to thank me for what ‘we’ have done for them. I’ve been at a petrol station several times and when I’ve arrived at the kiosk to pay, an anonymous member of the public has ‘taken care of it’!”

Trustee Norman tells me that there are more than 75 riders in MCBB and, there are hundreds more in 43 county areas, across the country, affiliated to the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes whose slogan is ‘we may well be having the ride of your life!‘. Nice!

In every region there’s a dedicated ‘backroom’ of volunteer duty controllers. These are the people who take the phone-calls and then disseminate jobs to the riders. They also give all their time for free.

The hospice call an 0843 number, peak times are between 12.30pm-1.30pm and 5.00pm-6.00pm, although there are other times when the service may be urgent and the call is routed to a duty controller to find the nearest driver.

Riders have to be over 25, have held a full, clean, motorcycle licence for over two years with no ‘fault’ accident in the last five. There are 8 fully liveried, ‘marked,’ bikes in the MCBB fleet, with many riders using their own vehicles.

Blood Bikes MasonVarious partner organisations have donated the funds to purchase the marked bikes over the past couple of years, recognising the importance of Blood Bikes to the smooth and efficient transfer of materials between health environments, as well as medications to people who need them. (The Provincial Grand Lodge of Cheshire Freemasons, also hospice supporters, purchased this Blood Bike, The Cheshire Mason).

Sometimes bloods and other samples have to be transferred across the country and the journeys are facilitated by a ‘relay’ system which has bikers meeting around county borders and in motorway service areas to keep the samples moving.

Norman tells me how 450 litres of breast milk goes via Holyhead to Ireland, Northern and the Republic, every year on Blood Bikes.

New bikes are fitted with ‘Blues and Two’s’ but it’s not yet legal for them to be used by the Blood Bikes riders, whatever the urgency of any particular job. So they can’t ‘jump lights or drive discourteously. They are at pains to be ambassadors for safe motorcycle riding.

And the courtesy has not gone unnoticed. In August the Chair of MCBB, Simon Dennett, received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on behalf of all the incredible people who give their time for this invaluable charity. Simon was effusive about the people who make it happen,

“This award has brought a very much deserved boost to our members, their dedication and commitment without hope of reward is humbling to witness. Their passion in the service we deliver has been recognised by Her Majesty and the entire group is bursting with pride as we look forward to the recognition which accompanies it.”

And we, at Wirral Hospice St John’s, salute everyone involved.

‘God speed’, as they say!

Author: Billy HowardBlood Bikes

Jill Littlewood talks about our Inpatient Ward and the new build #familiesmatter

wirral_hospice_jill_littlewood_inpatient_manager

Jill Littlewood joined Wirral Hospice St John’s as our Inpatient Services Manager in January 2014. Prior to that, she worked for 22 years in the Chester community as a district nurse. Her special interest has always been palliative care.

Palliative care, which is the care of people suffering from an illness that cannot be cured, is an area undergoing huge change. Wirral Hospice is at the forefront of current thinking; patients are helped to manage their conditions so that they are comfortable and have the best quality of life possible.

Patients referred to its Inpatient Ward might only stay a few days whilst their condition stabilises and then they return to the comfort of their own home, with support being given to them and their carers through Hospice at Home care.

“From the moment people come into the Hospice as inpatients, we are planning for their discharge and how they can be helped and supported at home. It is a much more positive view than it used to be. Patients may be admitted in crisis, but then, with the benefit of the highly skilled and specialised care and support we offer, they will often stabilise and be able to return to their own home, which is of course where most people yearn to be.”

Jill considers the construction of the new Hospice building as crucial to the development of this wraparound care.

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Julie Gorry, our Chief Executive thanks Wirral supporters #familiesmatter

wirral_hospice_julie_gorry_wed_21_may_2014 Julie Gorry, Wirral Hospice St John’s Chief Executive talks about how Hospice care has evolved and how the building work, currently underway at the Hospice, will enhance our care and support for patients, their carers and families. All thanks to our wonderful Wirral supporters!

“During the nine years I have been at Wirral Hospice St John’s, public understanding of the work we do has changed quite substantially, and continues to do so. We are constantly adapting to the needs of patients but also the changing needs of the community as a whole.

It is quite apparent that people wish to spend as little time as possible as an inpatient, much preferring their condition to be managed in such a way that allows them to enjoy as high a quality of life as possible, ideally in their own homes. Patients come to our 16-bed Inpatient Ward for only as long as it takes to stabilise their condition. Often, this can be for just a few days.

Then, as outpatients, they take advantage of our Day Therapy unit, and now we are reaching out with Hospice at Home, where teams of professionals visit and care for people at home.

The extension and refurbishment of the oldest part of the main Hospice, currently underway, means that we will be able to implement even more efficiently the vision of Integrated Shared Care. This aims to bring all the health and social care professionals together, allowing them to work even more effectively, and offering the patients, their families and carers wraparound care.

We like to think of this new way of working as a ‘Hospice without walls’. In essence, more patients will be helped to live as comfortably as possible with their illness, and we believe that those supporting and caring for them will also benefit, feeling recognised and supported during what can be an extremely difficult time. Read the rest of this entry »

Wirral Hospice promotes #dignity in care

wirral_hospice_dignity_in_careAll this week, Wirral Hospice is promoting dignity in care. This is in support of Dignity Action Day, a campaign organised by the National Dignity Council that aims to ensure people who use care services are treated as individuals and given choice, control and a sense of purpose in their daily lives.

The promotion of dignity in care will apply to all aspects of the Hospice’s work: outpatient clinics, therapy, the inpatient ward and the Hospice at Home service.

Every month, the Hospice can see and support more than two hundred patients through its outpatients clinics and day therapy unit, which are staffed by a caring and experienced team. As well as meeting with medical experts, patients and their families and carers can access a wide range of support and activities, information and services to help them to continue leading an active and independent life in the community for as long as possible. Every effort is made to work with individuals to reflect their personal needs and wishes.

Day therapy gives people the opportunity to deal with pain and symptom control issues; it also helps people address fears, anxieties and worries they may have about what they and their family are facing. It provides time to meet and share experiences with other people who are coping with similar challenges in a warm, welcoming and supportive environment.

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