We want to create a new ‘Hospice Hub’ to allow more people – across our community – to live better, for longer, at home. Today, I respectfully ask you to give us your support and make our vision a reality for thousands of terminally ill local people.
I am Deborah McAllister and I am a Staff Nurse here at Northern Ireland Hospice. I have been nursing local people for over 11 years. It’s such an honour and privilege to care for local people with cancer and other life-limiting conditions – and to deliver a truly personalised care experience to those outpatients who regularly attend our Day Hospice.
As you most likely are aware, Northern Ireland Hospice is now proud to be home to one of the very best medical facilities in the country – our brand-new hospice building here in Somerton – but we didn’t want progress to stop there. So, the next step was to review how we offer care to all those who come here for support on a daily basis – and how we could adapt our services to make the biggest impact on the greatest number of people.
After months of extremely hard work, we now have a vision for the future of local hospice care. Today, I’d like to tell you about our plans and – if I may – ask for your support to help make our vision a reality.
Our hugely popular Day Hospice has been welcoming patients for many years now. It offers a chance for people with life-threatening conditions to come in and be assessed by our specialist team, who can help identify issues a patient may be experiencing and offer support and advice as how to manage them. Day Hospice also gives people the opportunity to access peer support by spending time with others who are on the same journey.
It’s a vital part of our hospice care and a crucial touchpoint for people learning to live with a life-threatening illness. But, we are limited to welcoming only 15 patients each day in our facility – and we were aware that while coming in for half a day each week was great for some, for many others it simply wasn’t the best solution.
It’s great to be able to support people when they’re inside our building, but what we actually need to do is help patients to feel better, for longer and allow them to stay where they overwhelmingly want to be – and that is at home, with their loved ones, in familiar surroundings.
So, we have designed a brand-new service, which will be delivered through our new ‘Hospice Hub’ and, over time, will replace our existing Day Hospice. This new service will help us welcome significantly more people each day!
Instead of long periods of ‘social time’, patients will for the first time be able to access dedicated support services through personalised care programmes and by attending clinics. Those that need it can have interventions such as blood transfusions and intravenous medication (administered to help manage symptoms) that, up until now, may have needed a trip to hospital.
The focus will be on crucial time spent with the patient and specialist clinics to help them manage the symptoms specific to their disease or condition. Our patients will be able to receive physio and occupational therapy. We have social workers who can help patients cope with the stress of their illness; they’ll be on hand to provide information, help communication within the family or give advice with regards to any children who might be affected.
We will also spend dedicated time with the carers (most often a family member), either individually or in a group setting. Carers will be offered support on how to cope with their situation and the chance to interact with other carers who can understand what they’re going through – all helping them to learn how to better care for their loved one when they’re not with us.
Stephen Small is a very special friend of the Hospice and he has been kind enough to talk about his own personal experiences – as we recently cared for both Mary and Sean, his parents. This is our motivation – we want every family to have access to the same care and support as we were able to offer to those wonderful people. Read Stephen's story here
How you can get involved
We need help now in two ways. Once we’re up and running, we’ll need funds to pay for the nursing, therapy and support time the new clinics and patient sessions will require. An initial two-hour session at the ‘Hospice Hub’will involve meeting a patient for the first time and putting a care plan in place. At a cost of £35.62, I think this is incredible value for the huge benefit each patient will receive.
But, before we get to this point, we need to buy some specialist equipment and furniture. For example, we need to buy a mobile, hydraulic couch, so that patients can be moved easily between treatments; the simple height adjustment allows the couch to be lowered or raised to the best position for both patient and nurse. This new item will cost £1,062 – perhaps you could give £26.55 and be one of 40 people who’d buy that for us?
We also need to buy a new electronic bed frame, a contour mattress and a vital-signs monitor, so that we can keep patients safe and comfortable while they’re having a blood transfusion, for example. In total, we need to find £2,960 for this equipment – if 30 people each gave £98.66 then we can buy all three.
These are simply examples. Please, give whatever you feel is right – but know that any contribution you make will go directly to helping set up this new, vital service for local people.