When someone is perfectly suited to their job and loves what they do, it shines out of them when they’re speaking about their work.

Within a very short time of meeting Dr Sioned Evans, St Luke’s Consultant in Palliative Care in our Community team, it’s obvious just how passionate she is about her role and how dedicated she is to providing the very highest calibre of care for patients at such a vulnerable time, which also helps those around them.

While she is already a familiar face at St Luke’s, having worked within our team at Derriford Hospital since 2013, Sioned’s full-time role within the Community team is new, building on the work of Dr Doug Hooper who is now able to dedicate more time to end of life patients at the hospital, and Dr Jeff, who continues to cover community MDT in Cornwall. This development is a natural progression for our organisation as we adapt to the changing needs of those in our care, the majority of whom want to be looked after at home in familiar surroundings and close to loved ones.

Sioned initially trained as a GP before commencing her palliative care registrar training in Plymouth and in Exeter and Torquay. In 2017, she was appointed as a Consultant at St Luke’s.

She said: “I’m driven by a strong desire to make a difference to people who are nearing the end of life even when others might think there’s nothing more that can be done. While we cannot take away the inevitable, I believe there is always something we can do to ease things for them and make their journey as good as it
can be.

“It is hugely rewarding to be part of such a lovely and dedicated team. From our nurses to our occupational therapists and physio team, our social care team to our clinical admin staff, everyone is completely committed to doing their very best for our patients and their families, taking the time to understand their needs and tailoring our holistic care and support accordingly.”

With such invaluable specialist experience in caring for terminally ill people at end of life, Sioned’s presence and advice gives the team around her, which includes our Community Specialist Nurses and End of Life Urgent Care staff, the confidence to care for patients with the most complex needs. This is also very helpful to patients’ GPs and in turn aims to reduce unnecessary acute admissions to hospital or our specialist unit.

Sioned, who is married to Andy, Spiritual Care Specialist at Rowcroft Hospice in Torbay, and has two children, said: “For me, this is the perfect role as I can draw on my experience as a GP and a palliative care physician. And having had the privilege of working across all three of St Luke’s care teams means I have gained awareness and understanding of the particular nature and pressures of each.

“It’s been a real period of transition in the Community team with new staff and office changes, as well as new IT systems, but we know it’s all positive and will further enhance patient care.

“Already, our service is benefiting from having a single point of access and the multidisciplinary team meetings that are now daily, which means we can respond more quickly to the changing needs of our patients.
There are other exciting developments ahead, too, as we work towards digital consultations with other healthcare professionals and closer working with community hospitals, such as Tavistock.

“Joining the Community team has been a huge learning curve for me and I’ve been made so welcome. I’m so impressed with the professionalism of everyone and very excited that we are continuing to develop our service, keeping it patient focussed and making it the most safe and effective it
can be.”

A big-hearted powerhouse of a fundraiser, a selfless, long-serving volunteer and a woman who has helped countless families emotionally and practically during their toughest times are to be celebrated at next month’s Pride of Plymouth Awards – and St Luke’s is the link between them!

The recipients of the annual awards, which recognise the achievements of those who go above and beyond to help those in need across our city, have been announced and we couldn’t be more proud to see the names of Cuz Cusson, Jeannie Norris and Janet Hearl among them!

Next month will see them attend the glittering ceremony to receive public thanks for all they have done, year in, year out to make a difference.
Cuz, who lives in Mutley, will be presented with a Special Recognition award in honour of his tireless fundraising for our charity. He’s the founder of Rockfest, the popular annual live music extravaganza that is well established in Plymouth and has now raised an incredible £100,000-plus for us in memory of Cuz’s much-missed mum Dot, who received our care.

Jeannie, who is in her 80s, will be there to receive a Lifetime Achievement award celebrating her amazing volunteering history with St Luke’s. She has exceeded three decades of giving her time and skills unpaid to help our charity shops provide a welcoming and helpful service for bargain hunters. And she’s still going strong there, with the energy and enthusiasm

that comes from her passion for seeing our vital service continue.

Also receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, recently retired Janet – who for more than ten years went above and beyond in her work as our Bereavement Support Worker – will be celebrated for the immeasurable difference she has made, coming alongside patients and their loved ones with understanding, empathy and solid practical advice at their times of greatest need.

Huge congratulations from us to all three – we couldn’t wish for better ambassadors and we hope you have a wonderful day!

St Luke’s is renowned for going the extra mile for our patients and their families, and we have long been respected for the way we innovate to meet their needs.

Now we are the first hospice in the UK to embrace the new ‘cuddle bed’ that is both helping patients safely receive the care they need and find comfort and solace in the arms of those they hold dear.

At the touch of a button, the special bed, which was installed earlier this month at our specialist unit at Turnchapel, expands from a space-saving single into a comfortable double so a patient can be close to their partner and not separated because of their condition. It also means the young families we support can snuggle up together and enjoy cuddles that are precious beyond words.

Nicola Pereira, Head of Inpatient Nursing Services at St Luke’s, said: “We have always tried to provide the best care we can and go that bit further for the patients we care for. I always imagine a couple who have shared a bed for their entire married life – once one becomes unwell and needs care they have to be nursed in a single bed. What a privilege to be able to offer that couple the opportunity to share a bed once more, and even more special at the end of life.”

This fantastic addition to our specialist unit has been made possible thanks to the kindness of those who keep our charity close to their hearts. We’ll share the inspirational story behind their fundraising later this year and, in the meantime, they’ll know that they’re bringing comfort to other families and helping them make every moment count when time is running short.

Here at St Luke’s, we don’t keep our expertise to ourselves. We share it with others so that more people benefit, and this includes welcoming placement students keen to gain experience to complement their theoretical knowledge. So, it’s a happy turn of events when a student shines during their time with us and then the right opportunity subsequently opens up for them to apply for a position as part of our paid staff.

Such was the case for St Luke’s Bereavement Support Worker, Sue Martin, who joined in April, following Janet Hearl’s retirement.

With more than 25 years’ valuable experience in the health and social care sector in roles ranging from care assistant to registered manager of a nursing home, it was following the death of her husband that Sue decided to follow a new path and study towards becoming a counsellor for her own personal development.

From supporting people with issues around drugs and alcohol to helping those with phobias, there are many different areas of counselling but Sue found herself leaning more towards a role where she could not only draw on her previous professional experience but her own personal experience of loss, too, to make a difference to others.

It was following conversations with Jutta Widlake, Head of Social Care at St Luke’s, that Sue then had the opportunity of a placement with Jutta’s team as part of her Level 4 Diploma in Counselling. Not only did Sue complete the 100 hours necessary to help her get her qualification, what she learned working alongside our Social Care Manager Helen Koffi-Young, Social Workers Carolyn and Danielle and Bereavement Support Worker Andy Searle also meant that when the opportunity arose to apply for a full-time post, she was keen to take it. Sue, who has a daughter and two grandchildren, and lives in Lipson with her cat Eric, said:

“Doing my placement gave me really helpful insight into the work of the team and the huge variety involved in their work across the community, from helping families who might be struggling to care for their loved one to giving bereavement support.

“With that experience under my belt, plus the knowledge and skills I gained from previous work as well as my studies, I felt I would be a good fit for the permanent post and was really delighted to get the job.”

“Things have dovetailed well and I’ve been warmly welcomed into the team. I love the variety involved and being out and about where I’m needed to provide support, whether it’s coming alongside the relative of a patient in their own home or being there for a patient at Turnchapel.

“Although it’s early days and I’m still learning about St Luke’s, shadowing our Community Nurse Specialists and Social Workers has only confirmed to me that I’m part of a really special organisation that means so much to so many people. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

This summer, come rain or shine, storybook favourite Elmer the elephant and his chunky chums will be spreading a smile across our great city and Mount Edgecumbe, raising awareness and funds for St Luke’s.

The fun starts on 8 July, when Elmer’s Big Parade is launched and the 40 elephant sculptures – each individually painted by a talented artist, including globally celebrated Plymouth artist, St Luke’s Patron Brian Pollard – come out from under wraps as they’re unveiled for all to enjoy.

With each sculpture sponsored by a local organisation, plus the finale – the auctioning of the elephants in October – this mammoth event will raise funds towards sustaining our vital service.

Crucially, the project is also already helping to open up more open, honest conversations about death, dying and bereavement so that everyone feels listened to, understood and supported.

As part of this, our Education team has been working closely with local schools, recognising the importance of equipping staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to help children experiencing loss. The ‘mini’ Elmers the schools have had such fun decorating as part of this work will be on display at Mount Edgecumbe for visitors to enjoy as part of the event.

Elmer’s Big Parade is great news for our community in other ways, too. Not only is it set to attract 250,000 visitors to our city, bringing a big boost for all sorts of businesses from shops to restaurants, it will encourage people to get out and about on foot,

enhancing their well-being as they discover parts of our city they may not have previously seen.

Please share the news of Elmer’s Big Parade with family and friends – it’s a great way to spend time together and create special memories this summer. Be sure to engage with the social media, too, as it spreads the news about 40 trunks and tails and the difference they’re making for such a fantastic cause.

For more information on the trail visit Elmer’s official website at www.elmerplymouth.co.uk

We’re proud that our popular Midnight Walk is the city’s favourite girls’ night out, with both a faithful following taking part year on year and new additions each time the event comes around.