16th September 2021

    Hospice at Home: “The hidden gem of hospice care”

    Pilgrims Hospices offer a wide range of support to people across east Kent who are living with life-limiting conditions – on its wards and in its Therapy Centres in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet, and also out in the local community within peoples’ own homes.

    One such service is Hospice at Home; working with those considered to be within the last 72 hours of life, this vital team of Senior Healthcare Assistants (SHCAs) support families through the dying process at an incredibly difficult and important moment. Between them, they travel across the whole of east Kent to offer their skills and support. They work in shifts from 07:30-21:00, always in pairs.


    Mandy Hilden, Hospice at Home Team Leader

    The Hospice at Home service began in 2009 and is a small team of seven: Mandy Hilden (Team Leader), Becky Baldwin, Sharon Beal, Daniel Brown, Tracy Fullarton, Sharron Hill and Rachel Kendall-Jones.

    Referrals to the service are made via GPs, Pilgrims’ multidisciplinary team, a hospital palliative care team or district nurse, and the Hospice at Home team aim to respond within four hours.

    If a patient wants to be discharged from hospice or hospital care to die at home, the team help to make this possible; 24-hour care at home is not available, but the team can visit a couple of times a day to provide support and personal care.

    Duties are numerous and varied, and no two days are the same.

    The team said:

    “We help with personal care and offer emotional support to families and carers. We’re not time-restricted like some care providers are, so it’s nice to be able to give people our full, undivided attention for as long as they need it.

    “We have a good relationship with district nursing teams, who we contact if a patient needs medicines administering. We also report any changes in a patients’ condition to them and the palliative specialist nurses, so that their care is joined up and tailored to them.

    “Although we can’t offer overnight sits, we can refer to organisations that do so families are able to rest and catch up on some sleep.

    “Hospice at Home is the hidden gem of Pilgrims’ care. There’s often an assumption that we only offer inpatient units on the ward, but there’s so much more. It’s such a rewarding role, and it’s a real privilege to be allowed into peoples’ homes at a very difficult time. We’re not there to take over, just to support; you can see the pressure taken off family members when we arrive. It’s lovely to go home knowing you’ve done a good job.

    “It can be an emotionally and physically challenging role, but we also have an overwhelming feeling of pride and reward in what we do. It’s a real privilege to be able to support patients and families at an extremely personal time.”

    It’s such a rewarding role, and it’s a real privilege to be allowed into peoples’ homes at a very difficult time. We’re not there to take over, just to support; you can see the pressure taken off family members when we arrive. It’s lovely to go home knowing you’ve done a good job.

    Hospice at Home team

    Hospice at Home has continued to be a much-needed and appreciated service during COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, no visitors were allowed in the hospice buildings; as people were advised to stay home, more were able to care for loved ones there. This meant that many patients chose to be at home with loved ones at the end of their lives. The team was also deployed to the hospice wards and wider community, supporting where needed, especially at the height of the second wave over Christmas 2020.

    The team holistically accompanies patients in their journeys – from identifying when they’re nearing the end of life, providing last offices for loved ones, and caring for the family afterwards.

    They continued:

    “Most SHCA skills are transferable to other roles, particularly when working on the hospice wards, which we have often covered as a team. During the pandemic, we’ve regularly supported our colleagues at this very challenging time.

    “Our team became trainers for local nursing and residential homes, showing staff how to ‘don and doff’ PPE correctly. We also assisted a nursing home that was in crisis when their staff and residents all contracted COVID.”

    The team’s compassion and commitment is reflected in feedback from families they have supported:

    • “The carers who came twice a day were amazing, they helped wash my dad, used his favourite body spray, combed his hair. He looked so much more himself and comfortable afterwards, with dignity.”
    • “The support I received caring for my sister was unbelievable, the team were amazing with everything. I felt like I had gained two more special sisters during this difficult time.”
    • “They looked after my father daily, looking after his personal needs. They were and are amazing. As soon as they started with us, their confidence and manner calmed us all down. A ray of light in a very bleak time.”

    Kate White, Head of Nursing at Pilgrims, said: “Hospice at Home offer an invaluable service to those wishing to die at home by attending their home to give expert personal care in the last few days of life. They are able to take the time to support the patient and their loved ones at a most difficult time, with compassion and dedication. I receive numerous compliments from family members who’ve been so grateful and relieved for their input, as it means the patient’s wish to die at home is fulfilled. The team is vital to our overall hospice service, giving people choice and an alternative to inpatient care.”

    Main image, L-R: Rachel Kendall-Jones, Sharon Beal, Daniel Brown, Sharron Hill, Tracy Fullarton, Becky Baldwin


    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

    14th September 2021

    Valued volunteer Dea will be sadly missed at Pilgrims Hospices

    Long-time Pilgrims volunteer, Dea Martindale from Sturry, passed away under the care of the hospice she supported and loved on 23 August 2021.

    Dea who was 79, had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in October 2020 and had become more unwell suddenly in early August 2021.

    She spent a short while in the Canterbury hospice before returning home under Pilgrims’ Hospice at Home care team.


    Corrina Collins, Dea’s daughter said: “Mum was extremely proud to be a volunteer at the hospice, it was an important part of her life and very much her priority in her retirement years. She was a member of the reception team and had been known to sit with patients who had no family or visitors to give them comfort and support.

    “My sister Nichola and I can’t thank the Hospice at Home team enough, they were absolutely amazing; just like angels. They were not only wonderful with Mum in her final few days, but a tower of strength for us too. Nothing was too much trouble, and they were indeed a great comfort to us all.”

    Dea with social worker Lynne Digby during a marketing photo shoot for Pilgrims

     

    Over her 24 years of dedicated volunteering for the local end-of-life charity, she was often seen on a Sunday afternoon and always during the festive season, supporting wherever she could. After her husband Ken was cared for on the Canterbury hospice ward, she became a regular member of the hospice reception team. She also volunteered within the Therapy Centre, helping service users with crafting activities, lunches and plenty of cups of tea. Her generous and smiling nature would often get her involved with the Pilgrims marketing team, being part of photo shoots to promote hospice services. She was also a keen fundraiser, supporting the fundraising team at events including Summer and Christmas fairs. Car boot sales were also something she enjoyed over a number of years, she collected and stored goods to sell, raising tens of thousands of pounds to help keep Pilgrims’ valuable services running.

    Corrina added: “Mum was an independent and strong lady, it was crushing to see her become poorly so quickly. However, it’s been lovely to hear the nurses speak so fondly of her and to know she was truly valued as a volunteer.

    Mum was extremely proud to be a volunteer at the hospice, it was an important part of her life and very much her priority in her retirement years.

    Corrina, Dea’s daughter

    Adrian Matthews, Pilgrims Hospice Services Manager said: “I took over as Site Manager at Canterbury three and a half  years ago and as such took over the volunteers on reception as their manager.

    “I have to say, Dea will forever stick in my memory as one of my trusted members of the team but I would hope as a friend as well.

    “An absolute gem of a person and someone I am very proud to have come to know.”

    Dea received the Lord Mayor of Canterbury community service award in 2013 for her work at the hospices.

    A Pilgrims team member said: “It is with great sadness that we say good-bye to Dea, she will be missed by all of us, and will remain a wonderful testament to the amazing work that our volunteer workforce do at the hospices.”

    Dea with her daughters, Corrina and Nichola

     

    Dea had discussed with her daughters a bucket list of things that she wanted to achieve over the past year, which included some strong wishes for her funeral arrangements and to ensure her very last car boot sale took place.

    “Me and Mum’s very close friend Jenny, were able to carry out her boot sales wishes, selling about 90% of the items gathered with all money being donated to Pilgrims Hospices, the remaining items have been given to the Pilgrims Hospices shops. I know Mum was really pleased and satisfied that she was able to make this final commitment to her much loved hospices” added Corrina.

    Although Dea was unable to fulfil her bucket list due to COVID restrictions and her rapidly failing health, the daughters’ plan to tick one of their mum’s wishes from the list by taking a trip to the South Bank and sipping cocktails in her memory.

    Dea’s funeral will take place on Monday 27 September at Barham Crematorium at 3:20pm.


    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

    4th June 2021

    How volunteers are making a difference at Pilgrims Hospices

    Pilgrims Hospices volunteer Graham Dorkins tells us what it’s like to be back volunteering at the hospice in Canterbury after the long period of lockdown.


    Graham has been supporting Pilgrims staff managing the distribution and recording of the regular weekly COVID-19 testing kits. He told us: “It was great to hear from Adrian Matthews, Pilgrims Hospice Service Manager at Canterbury asking me if I would be able to offer some volunteer time to help with this important role.

    “I registered as a Pilgrims volunteer around one year ago, but obviously due to the COVID restrictions it’s been a while before I’ve been able to lend my support. I had shadowed as part of the reception team before lockdown, welcoming visitors, professionals and suppliers and hope to continue with the role moving forward. It’s a very rewarding role and there’s much to think about in order to ensure everyone is treated with respect and compassion and the hospice deliveries and maintenance services etc. are dealt with efficiently and professionally. As the first point of contact, it’s really important to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone arriving at the hospice. It’s good to have the support of the volunteer training programme too.

    As the first point of contact, it’s really important to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone arriving at the hospice. It’s good to have the support of the volunteer training programme too.

    Graham

    “I worked in the city in the banking sector for many years, I commuted from home in Faversham to London every day which often meant my day started at 5:30am with a journey home at 7:00pm. Two months into the lockdown, I decided to take early retirement which sadly meant I was unable to say good-bye to colleagues personally. However, I felt it was a good time to make changes and it would allow me time to offer my services as a volunteer.”

    “Why did I decide to volunteer for Pilgrims?

    “Well, I am a Christian and lay minister at St Catherine’s Church in Faversham, and as such wanted to help in the community. I know from personal experience, Pilgrims Hospices are an important service provided to those needing end-of-life care within our community; my mother-in-law was cared for at the Canterbury hospice two years ago.

    “The hospice was such a great help to our family.

    “I’ve been volunteering one morning each week with the COVID testing kits, it’s been lovely to be around so many people again and I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with the staff and care teams, there have been lots of names to learn and faces to remember.”

    There is no doubt at all that without our volunteers we would not raise the £11 million we need each year in order to provide our services to patients and their families.

    Jeff Southon, Voluntary Services Manager

     

    Pilgrims Hospices has almost 400 members of staff with around 1,600 volunteers who support them, not only within the hospice buildings but in the hospice gardens, retail stores, and also within fundraising groups and at events.

    Click here to find out more about volunteering for Pilgrims.

    Adrian Matthews, Pilgrims Hospices Services Manager with volunteer Graham Dorkins distributing COVID tests

     

    Jeff Southon, Voluntary Services Manager said: “It’s great to see Graham, and a few other volunteers returning to our hospices, albeit in small numbers at this time. They have been missed terribly over the last 15 months as they create such a positive vibe in the hospices, and they make a real difference to the people we support and care for. There is no doubt at all that without them we would not raise the £11 million we need each year in order to provide our services to patients and their families.

    “Volunteers bring a variety of skills and we look for opportunities to utilise their skills in the best possible ways. However, the most valuable attributes they can bring to the hospice are their commitment to the ethos of the charity and a positive approach to whatever role they undertake.

    We simply cannot do what we do without them and we are truly grateful to them for donating their time to Pilgrims Hospices.”


    Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?

    Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!


    Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.


    We’re accredited by REVAMP, a quality mark for Volunteer Involving Organisations developed by Stronger Kent Communities, a leading provider of support for the voluntary sector in Kent.


     

    6th October 2020

    This is what it takes to provide hospice care for the people of east Kent

    Hospice Care Week 5 – 11 October 2020

    Hospice Care Week is an annual opportunity for the UK’s 200+ hospices to showcase the incredible work they do.  This year, with COVID-19 restrictions limiting our face-to-face events, Pilgrims decided to make a film to show just what it takes to provide hospice care for the people of east Kent.

    We hope this film shows the breadth of our services,  helps to overcome the taboo that still exists around discussing death and dying  and shows the dedication of our workforce and volunteers.

    If you ask people what they understand about hospice care, most will refer to our wards where we look after people at the very end of their lives.  This is certainly a key part of what we do, but we do so much more.

    Hospice Care Week might look a little different this year, but the 200+ hospices throughout the UK know that is all the more reason to recognise and celebrate the incredible work that they do.

    Pilgrims Hospices care is far more than just buildings where people go to die.  Much of the care happens in people’s homes and within the community.  When Pilgrims care for someone at the end of their life, they are helping them to make adjustments and changes, learn to live with their illness, manage symptoms and live well in every moment.

    The challenging times of COVID-19 have captured headline news for all organisations across the country and the world, it brings challenges to the charity’s care and resources too.  The nurses and staff on the wards continue to provide 24-hour nursing care for those who need a bed on one of the hospice wards.  While the community teams remain at the heart of the community, supporting patients and their families to be cared for at home if this is their wish.

    Underpinning Pilgrims care are a team of occupational therapists, counsellors, physiotherapists, and many more who support patients to understand their conditions and provide the necessary equipment and techniques to manage pain, breathlessness and anxiety to support their quality of life.

    We have 1,500 volunteers dedicating around 150,000 hours per year which makes a significant difference to our services.  They make a contribution in around 30 different roles across our services which include retail, administration and fundraising.  We celebrate their dedication and work to offer them the best volunteer experience with Pilgrims Hospices.

    Jeff Southon – Volunteer Services Manager

     

    Jeff Southon – Volunteer Services Manager

     

    Pilgrims Hospices community is wide and diverse; supporting the front line clinical team are researchers, catering, retail, domestic, education, fundraisers, administration teams and the most amazing support of 1,500 volunteers.  The charity supports over 2,500 patients each year coping with life-limiting illnesses.

    Recently Pilgrims Hospices have developed and adapted their services to provide continued support even when the pandemic has restricted face to face services.  They have overcome the challenges and offer a business as usual service via online technology, telephone and YouTube where there’s access to many support videos which include fitness, wellbeing and creativity.

    The range of care which included complementary therapy the nurses and occupational therapy allowed Ann to fulfil her wish to stay at home.

    Kate Love – Volunteer and service user

     

    Kate Love – Volunteer and service user

     

    As a celebration of all the work that goes on every day of the year; Pilgrims has compiled a video of just some of the incredible people that help the charity to be there for anyone who needs their specialist care in east Kent.  You can watch on Pilgrims Hospices website.

    Mandy Williams, Pilgrims Head of Education, who narrates the project said: “We felt it was important that people know we offer far more than just a hospice bed or a place to die.

    The video is a small insight into the work of so many compassionate

    people, whether as an employee of the charity or as a much valued volunteer.

    “We hope you will watch and enjoy our celebration of the work Pilgrims Hospices does in east Kent.

    “We are dedicated to providing quality comfort and care for our patients, and support for families and friends when a loved one has died.”


    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured.  The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress. 

     

    29th May 2020

    Pilgrims marks Volunteers’ Week with “WE MISS YOU!” message

    Staff and trustees at Pilgrims Hospices are counting down the days to Volunteers’ Week 2020. Now in its 36th year, Volunteers’ Week is held annually to celebrate the incredible contributions of millions of volunteers across the UK.

    In east Kent, more than 1600 people volunteer for Pilgrims’ and all work varying hours in a wide range of roles. From receptionist to retailer, fundraiser to therapist, gardener to caterer, the skills and experiences volunteers bring to the charity are vast.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has put on pause many voluntary activities, but Pilgrims’ is determined to celebrate and recognise the enormous difference volunteers make.

    Jeff Southon, Pilgrims’ Volunteer Services & HR Manager, comments: “Since late March this year, almost all of our volunteers have only been able to support us from home but they have been doing it in a variety of new ways. Our message to them is – we miss you!

    “We are very much looking forward to the day we can welcome back our volunteers. This week is all about saying thank you all for your unstinting support.”

    Volunteers are the backbone of our organisation

    Helen Bennett – Pilgrims Hospices Acting CEO

    During lockdown, volunteers have donated to Pilgrims’ Still here, Still Caring fundraising appeal, and supported the charity’s new care initiatives Matching Hearts and #stayathomehospicehero. They have also been volunteering in other roles to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Pilgrims’ Acting CEO, Helen Bennett, says: “It has been said many times, but it remains the case, that volunteers are the backbone of our organisation, and now more than ever they are the backbone of our communities.

    “We are currently working on how we can safely restore some of our voluntary activities and will keep our volunteers up-to-date on developments. We want to send a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all our volunteers during Volunteers’ Week 2020.”

    Volunteers’ Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It’s a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers’ wellbeing. The estimated value of volunteers helping charities in the UK is £22.6 billion.

    Please note that many of our volunteer roles are currently paused to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    We look forward to welcoming our volunteers back on board once the current situation improves.

    For current information about all Pilgrims Hospices services, including for volunteers, during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, please visit pilgrimshospices.org/covid-19.


    Pilgrims Hospices has been caring for the people of east Kent for more than 37 years, having opened its first hospice in Canterbury in 1982. Its two other locations were opened at Thanet in 1992 and at Ashford in 2001. The charity provides palliative care for adults with a range of incurable illnesses including cancer, heart failure, respiratory conditions and neurological diseases. Care is provided from the three sites, in patients’ homes and via community programmes.

     

     

     

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