Annie Hogben has worked for Pilgrims Hospices since 1986. Initially a nurse, she then helped to set up the Therapy Centres, and is now based within the charity’s Education team, developing volunteer roles that support patients, carers and bereaved loved ones.
In Pilgrims’ 40th birthday year, she reflects on her memories with the local hospice charity.
I started work in Canterbury hospice as a State Enrolled Nurse in May 1986. I was so keen to join the hospice team after hearing a lecture by Cicely Saunders, one of the early founders of the hospice movement, and felt it was the right place for me. When I came to the hospice, there was purely a ward, with the availability of 20 beds for patients across east Kent. Our Medical Director did home visits to support patients in the community, and as always we worked very closely with GPs, district nurses and hospital staff, to support palliative patients and their families in our local communities.
A day centre was opened a year or so later, and this operated five days a week for our community patients. This enabled patients to have an overview of their symptoms as well as engage in a variety of social and creative activities, whilst providing some worthwhile respite for their families. These centres have always been so positive, enhancing the wellbeing of patients of various ages and situations, with much shared joy and laughter.
Pilgrims has grown and developed dramatically to meet the needs of the people of east Kent, but always with the wonderful philosophy to support and come alongside patients, families and bereaved loved ones throughout the latter part of their lives.
I consider it a real privilege to have been part of this amazing team of staff and volunteers for so long.
Allied Health Care Professionals have always been such an important part of the team supporting patients, families and bereaved relatives at Pilgrims, as have volunteers, who were present on the ward, supporting staff in those early days. It is so lovely that part of my current role has been to be part of the team to reintroduce Ward Support Volunteers, which adds great value to patients and their loved ones.
I left the hospice in 1989 to continue my training and then to work on an oncology unit, the Mountbatten Centre at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. I returned to Canterbury hospice in 1992 as a Registered Nurse on the ward. Shortly after this, the specialist community nursing team were introduced, to support community patients and families across the whole of east Kent. This invaluable service now runs throughout all three hospice sites.
I was fortunate to move into the role of Senior Staff Nurse on the ward, and throughout that time experienced many celebrations with patients on the ward, including weddings, anniversaries and other important events. The addition of the Thanet hospice allowed the growth of support services for the people of east Kent, enabling access to services in the local area and increasing the amount of beds available for those requiring in-patient care.
After having my family, I was on duty on nights for a couple of years, before finally leaving the Canterbury hospice in 2000 to move to the Ashford hospice, to set up the day services centre there. Over these past years, Pilgrims has grown and developed dramatically to meet the needs of the people of east Kent, but always with the wonderful philosophy to support and come alongside patients, families and bereaved loved ones throughout the latter part of their lives. I consider it a real privilege to have been part of this amazing team of staff and volunteers for so long.
Pilgrims Hospices opened in Canterbury in June 1982, followed by Thanet in 1992, and Ashford in 2001. That means we have a lot to celebrate this year!
Find out more at pilgrimshospices.org/40.