At Sue Ryder, we do all we can to make sure the people we care for are supported to spend the time they have left in the way they choose. For many, their final wish is to be at home in a place of comfort and familiar surroundings.
This is where our Hospice at Home team comes in, helping to make this wish a reality wherever possible.
Our Leckhampton Court Hospice at Home team comprises 22 staff who cover hundreds of miles each year travelling to people’s homes in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury. Since the service started in 2015, they have provided 18,235 hours of specialist hospice care to patients and families in their own homes and local communities, supporting 314 patients.
They take the specialist care skills, ethos and practical support of our hospice out into people’s own homes. We want you to meet some of the team who help make it happen.
Meet Team Manager Heather
Heather Mitchell is Manager of the Hospice at Home Team at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. She is also a Trustee of the National Association for Hospice at Home, where her enthusiasm and expertise is helping to raise awareness of palliative homecare, and champion access wider access so more people can benefit from this care, no matter where they live or what their condition is.
"There is a comforting familiarity of being cared for in your own home," she says. "No one has to ask how many sugars you have in your tea!
"It is a real privilege to manage this service. Nursing those for whom life is short is humbling. We do all we can to make sure families are not alone. We are with them every step of the way, providing support to make sure they are where they want to be, doing what they want to be doing, with those around them who matter," she concludes.
Meet Senior Healthcare Assistant Nicola
"I'm not sure I can put into words how special it is to be able to help fulfil people’s wishes at the end of their lives; to help people be cared for in a way they want to be," confides Senior Healthcare Assistant Nicola Hayward. "We are welcomed into families’ homes and trusted to be part of their world during the final stages of a loved one’s life. It is a huge privilege.
It's the small things that show Nicola she's making a difference.
"It could be a look across a bed from a patient, or a small gesture or touch," she continues. "Being able to offer people who are dying the real option of staying at home, in familiar surroundings, is something I am really passionate about."
Meet Sister Lou
The patients take the lead as to what kind of homecare they need and our team is there to help, explains Sister Louise Lines.
"We tailor the care we give to each individual patient and we do all we can to make sure they are warm and safe," she says. "We will assess what they need to make sure they can remain independent, working with other health care professionals too. Our care is about giving comfort and dignity to make people feel safe.
"Many people tell us about the difference our care has made to them, their friends or family."
Patient perspective: what Hospice at Home care means to me
Fiona Hudman’s husband, Steve, was cared for by the team in 2010.
"I am so grateful for the care given to us by the team at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice at Home," Fiona tells me. "Steve was losing his fight with cancer, and we both made the decision for Steve to be cared for in his own home so that close family could share the short time Steve had left, which was a great comfort to us all. We were given all we needed to do this.
"I felt apprehensive the first time a member of the Hospice at Home team came over," she admits, "as I had been looking after Steve and found it hard to let someone else take over.
"It takes great care and skill to come in and give someone care on such a personal level. The Hospice at Home nurses had this very special skill. They gave me the strength to be with Steve. I can’t thank them all enough."
Meeting people’s wishes
As Director of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court, I am extremely proud of the work of our Hospice at Home team, especially their close working links with the NHS and other voluntary providers.
Our Hospice at Home team perfectly complements the work of the District Nursing Service to make sure all patients can receive care in the place they want to. Our specialist team also collaborates closely with other voluntary providers in the county to provide our Hospice at Home service to patients.
Through this way of working, we have provided preferred place of dying at home for 100% of patients in their care, meeting people’s wishes.
To me, that is a very special thing to do.
How you can help us take hospice care home
You can help Heather, Nicola, Lou, myself and the rest of our colleagues deliver care in more people’s homes.
A gift of £150, for instance, could ensure a Hospice at Home nurse has a mobile working bag with all the kit they could possibly need.
To donate, visit www.sueryder.org/donate and select 'Leckhampton Court Hospice'.