"My role is to empower people – and often it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference."

Occupational Therapist Heather Bayliss is part of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court’s multidisciplinary Day Hospice team, which supports people living with cancer, lung disease, heart failure or neurological conditions in Gloucestershire. In this blog post, she shares how occupational therapy supports patients attending the specialist Day Hospice programme.

Occupational Therapist Heather Bayliss outside Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Day Hospice
Heather describes Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court as a "life-affirming place helping people live the best lives they can".
Leckhampton Court Occupational Therapist Heather Bayliss shows off her Cheltenham Half running vest
Heather shows off her Cheltenham Half running vest.

When you ask people what they know about occupational therapy they often say: "Oh, doesn’t it help you get back into work?" or "Isn’t it like physio?" What people don’t realise is that occupational therapy has a vital role to play in palliative care.

The word ‘hospice’ often frightens people too. It can be a major life transition coming to the Day Hospice for the first time. But when they first walk through our front door, we are able to myth bust. We are so much more than a hospice: we are a safe, life-affirming and welcoming place, and we strive to help people live the best lives they can.

I have worked as an occupational therapist for many years in the community, but before coming to Sue Ryder I had never worked in palliative care. When I came to the hospice for my interview, I was blown away by what was happening here. I’ve found my niche and I’m now working in an area of care I really love and can see myself staying in.

"We listen, observe and talk about what matters"

At the start of the day, the Day Hospice multidisciplinary team have a handover meeting and we review which patients are with us that day – this could be new patients or patients we’re already working with towards reaching their goals.

When people first join us, we listen to their stories, observe what they can do and talk together about what is important to them.

Once we know what is individually important and meaningful, we help set goals so people can achieve what they need to do – be that to have a shower, get in and out of bed unaided, or manage fatigue or anxiety. We also look at the things they want to be able to do – be that start getting out and about again or getting back in the kitchen.

My role is to support patients in achieving what matters to them through patient and carer education, the sharing of advice, tips and techniques, or helping to arrange for aids or modifications within their home environment.

Getting back in the kitchen

I remember one lady loved baking, but as her diagnosis progressed she wasn’t able to be in her kitchen as much as she used to. We started a baking group while she was at the Day Hospice and she loved it. She chose to bake her favourite – lemon drizzle cake – and it was delicious. She was really lifted by it.

We do a lot of group work in the Day Hospice too. I can remember one group of patients who were all struggling with fatigue. In our group session, people were able to share their experiences, and I shared advice and tips on how they could ease some of these symptoms and the techniques we can put in place to help manage fatigue.

Our care is tailored to the needs of our patients and what matters to them.

Every day is different – from alpacas and ballerinas to ice cream van visits!

The best part of my job is spending time with patients and watching as they achieve their goals. We carefully measure outcomes for our patients using a set model of practice – we look at their satisfaction at the start and at the end of our work together.

It is so satisfying to see people’s spirits lift as they can see what they can now achieve. The greatest satisfaction is seeing someone becoming more confident as they progress through our Day Hospice programme with input from the whole multidisciplinary team.

At Sue Ryder, we have time to spend with our patients. We can make a real difference to people and it is such a privilege to be part of the therapies team.

When I tell people I work at a hospice, many people say it must be hard, but I tell them it’s not. I absolutely love it. We get to connect with people to support them in a way that makes a profound difference to their lives. I get to meet so many different people and the Day Hospice is such a vibrant place.

Every day is different – from visiting alpacas and ballerinas to string quartets. When I was sat on the lawn at lunchtime on my very first day here, an ice cream van rolled up to treat staff and patients!

There is a real can-do attitude here. Anything is possible and, if we can’t do something, we will find a way to make it happen.

About our Leckhampton Court Day Hospice

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court’s Day Hospice programme includes expert nursing care, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapy, family and spiritual support, and art activities.

The service is available to people living in Gloucestershire who have a life-limiting illness such as cancer, lung disease, heart failure or a neurological condition.

Patients can speak to their GP or lead care consultant to arrange for a referral to these services using this referral form.

Learn more about Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice

Author

Ocupational Therapist Heather Bayliss

Occupational Therapist

Heather Bayliss

Heather supports people living with cancer, lung disease, heart failure or neurological conditions to continue doing what is important to them as part of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court's Day Hospice team.