Hospice Care Week: Saint Francis Hospice tells of how it makes a difference in the community
PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 October 2018
Saint Francis Hospice
To mark Hospice Care Week, Saint Francis Hospice which continues to help the Brentwood community, wishes to highlight the services it provides as well as challenge any myths.
The hospice in Broxhill Road, Havering-atte-Bower, has been up and running for 34 years, working hard to care and support people who are affected by a wide range of end-of-life conditions.
A common misconception of hospices though is that they only care for people with cancer.
Over the past year, Saint Francis Hospice has cared for 1,693 patients but 11 special interest groups have been developed to help reach out to those with non-cancer related conditions including heart, liver and kidney failure.
A new clinic for people with an advanced neuro degenerative disease was also started up last month and is open to anyone with a neurological life-limiting illness and includes a carer “drop-in” service and medial support.
Patients are also invited to take part in an exercise class which is run by the hospice’s physiotherapists to help improve their range of movement and strengthen muscles as well as giving them the chance to socialise with other people in a similar situation.
Dr Gemma Constable who leads the monthly sessions said: “It is important to focus on these people and widen our access so we can start developing relationships with them and offer more services to support them.”
The physiotherapy and occupational therapy team support patients with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses including cancer, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
Patients receive support to help give them back some control over their lives and the confidence and assistance they need to remain as independent as possible.
The physiotherapy team run groups such as the exercise class to help people with their mobility and balance and a class to help people to manage their breathing.
Help is also given in the form of creative therapy where people can express themselves and meet others who are going through their own experiences.
Terry Chilvers, 67, has sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, and has been under the hospice’s care for 18 months.
He said: “The breathing classes on a Monday have helped me to cope with my illness.
“It’s nice to be able to ask questions if you have got things happening that affect your breathing.
“The main thing is it gives you a chance to get out, have a laugh and a joke and get each other through what you are going through.”
Qualified social workers are also on hold to give practical and emotional support to carers.
Alex, 59, from Dagenham, has lung cancer and has been cared for by the hospice since May.
His condition left him unable to return to work and he was referred to Saint Francis’ social worker Sandy Lawless.
Since then, Sandy has been ensuring Alex is aware of grants and services he is entitled to and helping him complete the forms necessary to access the funding and appropriate accommodation.
He said: “There is no way in a million years I would have managed without Sandy’s help.”
“I feel Sandy has pushed her way through a brick wall for me.”
Director of quality and care Tes Smith said: “Hospice Care Week is a great opportunity to highlight the vital role hospice play in enabling people with life-limiting illnesses to live with dignity and the invaluable support it provides to their families and carers.
“At Saint Francis Hospice we are very proud of the extensive range of specialist end of life care services we offer and we are continually developing our services so we can reach out to even more people who may benefit from our care and support.
“People are often unaware that we are a charity and need to raise almost £8m a year.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to all our incredible supporters who find so many innovative ways to fundraise and show their support.
“You are all truly amazing.”