As 2020 draws to an end we wanted to look at what our Hospice has been up to over the past ten years. In a year that has seen so much hardship across the globe, we wanted to look back and celebrate our successes with a view to continuing all the good we have achieved into the next few years.
Below is a glimpse of just some of the things our Hospice has been up to and how our staff, volunteers, donors and many dedicated supporters have helped make our Hospice one of the finest providers of palliative care in the country.
2010 – Eva’s Fund
Living with a life-limiting illness is one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to go through, but the added burden of financial stress can make things much more difficult than they need to be. That’s why Eva’s Fund was created to help terminally-ill patients and their families facing extreme poverty. The fund is essential in helping patients know they can achieve the basic standards of living – something everyone should have access to – without going through the anxiety of putting additional strain on their finances. We are incredibly proud of the amazing work Eva’s Fund has achieved over the past ten years.
2011 – The Connect Project – Refurb
In 2011 we felt it was time for our Inpatient Unit to undergo an update. The Connect Project introduced things that have been a huge benefit to our provision of essential palliative care. The design of the new central ‘hub’ made it possible for our amazing staff to look out at the Hospice around them and constantly monitor our patients. We brought in screens to give our male and female bays more privacy while also providing better access to private bathrooms. The final improvement was to make the entrance of our Hospice more bright and welcoming, and anyone visiting today will still be able to see how successful this has been.
2012 – Hospice@Home Award
When we talk about our essential palliative care it’s easy to assume we’re just talking about our Inpatient Unit, but there is so much more to our Hospice. This was recognised in 2012 when our Hospice@Home team won the Best Domiciliary / Home Care Provider in the UK at the Independent Healthcare Awards. When someone is nearing the end of their life, they often want to be able to stay at home where they feel most comfortable; this is what our Hospice@Home team makes possible. Made up of dedicated specialists and professionals, they are just one of the many teams that make our Hospice a leading light in palliative care.
2013 – Palliative Care Ambulance Service
Another element of our Hospice that is rare in palliative care is our dedicated ambulance service; in fact, we were the first London Hospice to have one, and in 2013 we celebrated our first year of providing this service. Our ambulances provide free transport to all our Hospice patients, including those still at home. Most of our patients live alone and 40% rely on wheelchairs, so getting around London is not easy. Our ambulance service ensures they can come to our Hospice as well as attend doctor and optician appointments. They have even been known to do a bit of wedding chauffeuring! During the current pandemic our ambulance service has demonstrated once again how it can make a huge difference to our palliative care, delivering food to isolated patients and ensuring they have everything they need at this difficult time.
2014 – The Dignity Project
A major part of what our Hospice does is support loved ones and family members when they have lost someone close to them. The Dignity Project ushered in improvements to our Hospice that would better aid us in delivering this part of our care. We created a Family Room where loved ones could have a quiet place to grieve and reflect. We also installed a lift that made it easier to discreetly move deceased patients, and took measures to ensure that we would always do our utmost to fulfil cultural traditions in death.
2015 & 2016 – Apothecary Garden
Despite being tucked away in central London we have always taken great pride in our Hospice being surrounded by green space, and we were particularly proud in 2016 when our garden took part in The Chelsea Flower Show. Designed by horticulturist Jekka McVicar, the garden offers patients and their families a place of calm in which all the plants are linked to health and wellbeing. Four years later it is still a place people speak of with great fondness when discussing our Hospice.
2017 – Wellbeing Groups
We recently spoke to one of our Day Care Unit patients who told us about the friendships she made with other patients in our Hospice. These relationships can provide an incredible boost to mental wellbeing when living with a life-limiting illness, providing some reassurance in knowing that others are going through a similar experience. Back in 2017 we introduced our Wellbeing Groups to allow patients to get together in an informal way to share their experiences and symptom management. The groups are also given the opportunity to partake in a variety of Hospice-provided therapies and activities including meditation, mindfulness, art and – because singing always lifts the spirit – karaoke. Many of the groups also keep in touch on WhatsApp to support each other when they’re not in the Hospice. Watching these groups go from strength to strength is something we are truly delighted to see.
2018 – One-to-One Nursing
At our Hospice we take great pride in tailoring the essential palliative care we deliver to each and every patient. Some patients – especially those living with illnesses such as Motor Neurone Disease, late-stage HIV and multiple concurrent diagnoses – require much more one-on-one care from our nursing team. In 2018, we delivered more than 2,500 hours of one-to-one nursing care over the course of just three months. This is something we always strive for: ensuring our patients received best-in-class care that exemplifies our motto of “Putting People First”.
2019 – Child Bereavement
A key part of our essential palliative care that is easily overlooked is our support for families who have lost a loved one. Last year, specialist social worker Sagaralisa set up our Young People’s Bereavement Group. The purpose of this group is to offer teenagers who have experienced bereavement a safe, informal and therapeutic place to express their feelings with their peers. It has proved hugely successful, with teenagers in the group being able to bond through sharing common experiences. This is a one-of-a-kind service in Westminster and one we are delighted to see flourish as time goes on.
2020 – IPU Refurb + COVID
2020 has been a hard year for everyone but – as always with our Hospice – we have achieved great things in the face of adversity. In March this year, one day prior to the first national lockdown, we began work on a significant refurbishment project for our Inpatient Unit. We were determined to make our Hospice more dementia-friendly and our garden accessible to all patients. The whole IPU is now air-conditioned and our children’s room is more attuned to the needs of our young family members. On top of this, we have introduced more lighting and tweaked the environment to allow our staff more freedom to focus on the most important part of our palliative care: our patients.
During the COVID-19 pandemic we have striven to ensure our patients are always properly looked after. Isolation and loneliness have been shown to increase mortality by 26%, so we have been making regular phone calls to our patients self-isolating at home and providing mobile phones to those unable to afford them. Our Ambulance service has been ensuring patients at home had all the food they needed, and on top of this we’ve been offering to deliver weekly care packages from our Occupational Therapists to help alleviate mental and physical stress.
Meanwhile, at the Hospice itself we have introduced a host of safety measures to ensure our patients and staff are properly protected against COVID. Staff on the IPU have been wearing full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), some of which has been generously donated and even bespoke-made using 3D printers.
“2020 has been such a hard year; the Hospice is far behind it’s target for fundraising and yet I see it doing more than ever to support our patients,” says Caroline Fox, CEO of our Hospice. “Looking back on this year – and the past decade – reminds me of how much our Hospice has achieved. It is a testament to the incredible hard work and dedication shown by all our Hospice staff. It never fails to amaze me and I cannot express how grateful and proud I am of the work they all do in delivering best-in-class palliative care.”
The past ten years have seen incredible developments in our Hospice’s delivery of our essential palliative care. But we cannot do this without the help of generous donations. Due to many fundraising events being cancelled this year our fundraising is significantly down. Please donate whatever you can to our Hospice, even a little really does go a long way. Thank you.