We bring the hospice into patients' homes

Patient John Plews who uses the St Luke's hospice at home service

Patient John Plews who uses the St Luke's hospice at home service

First published in Local News Echo: Photograph of the Author by

ST Luke’s Hospice is celebrating a decade of taking its services out to people’s homes when they need them most.

For ten years, the Hospice at Home service has been caring for residents living with lifelimiting illnesses in Basildon, Billericay, Wickford and Thurrock.

It was launched in 2003 following a successful bid for cash from the National Lottery’s New Opportunities Fund.

St Luke’s, in Nethermayne, Basildon, joined forces with the Southend-based SPDNS Nurse Care, an independent non-profit nursing service, and by working with other care providers the scheme was piloted in Thurrock, before being extended to the Basildon borough.

Marilyn DeBatistta, head of revenue development and marketing at the hospice, said: “It is now greatly valued and one of the fastest growing services provided by St Luke’s.

“Hospice at Home does exactly what it says – we take the love and care received in the hospice to patients in their own homes.

“The service is tailored to an individual patient’s and family’s needs, be that direct nursing care, psychological care, emotional support, symptom and pain management, respite care or practical help.”

About three quarters of Hospice at Home patients may never actually visit St Luke’s, but are still considered very much to be hospice patients.

Services such as bereavement counselling, social work, complementary therapies and physiotherapy services, as well as a specialist counselling service for children and young people, are all provided.

Hospice at Home also provides volunteers to stay with a loved one, so their carer can go to carer support group meetings.

Mrs DeBatistta said: “For patients who live alone and may not need nursing care, we can offer a volunteer befriender who can offer the support a good friend or neighbour may provide.

“The aim of Hospice at Home is for patients and carers to feel supported and not alone.”

Qualified staff are on hand via a 24-hour telephone on-call service, seven days a week, to carry out both planned and emergency visits.

The whole team works together to avoid unnecessary admissions, enabling patients to stay in their own home if that is what they want, or be supported at home until a hospice bed is available.

Staff also offer training to family members and home carers to give them the knowledge and confidence needed to look after their loved one.

The team is managed by Gill Booth, who was part of the original Hospice at Home in 2003, when Ros Matty was at the helm. Ros retired in 2009 and was succeeded by Gill.

Gill said: “When I first started with Hospice at Home ten years ago, I never imagined how the role would develop.

“My first love is going into someone’s home and making a difference to them and their family.

“However, I now know I can achieve that more widely by managing a truly committed and passionate team. It is both a challenge and a joy to manage this essential service.”

As well as being referred to Hospice at Home by clinical professionals, you can also refer yourself or be referred to St Luke’s by a friend or relative.

To get in touch with the team, call 01268 273226.

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