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.

    24th April 2020

    Pilgrims care team hope to capture ‘Matching Hearts’ for hospice patients

    As visiting is currently restricted on Pilgrims Hospices sites across east Kent; the charity looks to find alternative ways to offer patients, their families and friends simple and creative ways to help everyone feel connected and to find heart-warming comfort during the COVID-19 outbreak.


    Carole Lightfoot, Health Care Assistant at Pilgrims Hospices

    The care team were so inspired by the successful campaign introduced by NHS intensive care nurse Kat Lamb from the QEQM Hospital in Margate, they decided to ask for support from volunteers and keen crafters to make ‘Matching Hearts’ for Pilgrims Hospices end of life care patients.

    Justine Robinson, Pilgrims Occupational Therapy Lead said: “The ‘Matching Hearts’ are absolutely perfect for sharing with our patients, their families and friends. We are asking for your support to craft fabric or woolen ‘Matching Hearts’ for our care team to share with patients. One heart will be given to the patient and the matching one will be sent to their family.”

    Although the hearts are no substitute for being surrounded by loved ones, Pilgrims hope these precious gestures will give patients something special to focus upon and help those who are unable to be close to forge an emotional link.”

    Justine added: “The COVID-19 restrictions are difficult for our nurses as well and our patients, offering a token small heart to those in our care may bring a smile and perhaps help them share a few words of their own family magic with us, it will also help to lift our spirits in these difficult times.

    The ‘Matching Hearts’ are absolutely perfect for sharing with our patients, their families and friends.

    Justine Robinson, Occupational Therapy Lead, Pilgrims Hospices

    “We know there so many wonderful people out there who will want to support Pilgrims with their crafting skills. I send my thanks in advance and look forward to sharing your heart-warming treasures and the thoughts behind them.”

    Hearts can be knitted; crocheted, embroidered, fabric or felt, and each heart should have at least one matching pair.

    If you’d like to share your crafty skills and make ‘Matching Hearts’ for Pilgrims patients; you will need to pop them into plastic bags (sandwich bags) and clearly mark with the date of packaging. The hearts will be quarantined for 72 hours before they are given to the patient, to ensure any risk of infection is minimised.

    A drop-off box for hearts will be outside each hospice from Monday 27 April, 8am – 4pm, or you can post them to the Hospice Service Manager on each site:

    • Hythe Road, Willesborough, Ashford TN24 0NE
    • 56 London Road, Canterbury CT2 8JA
    • Ramsgate Road, Margate CT9 4AD

    We are very proud to work closely with our NHS colleagues as we continue to provide end of life care across east Kent.


    This year alone, Pilgrims Hospices has to raise £11 million through voluntary donations in order to run our services. Please help us to continue our work throughout these difficult times by donating to our Still Here, Still Caring appeal.

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