With just two weeks left to register, places for our our Men’s Day Out on 24 March are going fast!

Not only is it an opportunity for a great time with your mates, it’s a chance to celebrate the memory of someone special.

This is just what a team from the Co-op depot in Plympton will be doing when they get together for the day of rugby and banter and walk in memory of Mark, younger brother of colleague Adam Weir, who was looked after by St Luke’s until he sadly passed away recently.

Adam’s colleague, Warehouse Shift Manager Alex Whitehouse, said: “We know from the great care Mark received – and the way St Luke’s cared for a colleague of mine when I was in the Navy – that the nurses there are all angels. They always go above and beyond.

“Mark meant so much to so many people. This is a great way to celebrate his life and raise money for a fantastic charity too. Currently, five of us have signed up and we’re recruiting others. It will be a great day out for an amazing cause!”

Men’s Day Out is powered by IU Energy and there’ll be an extra FREE pint on the day for every guy who raises £100 or more in sponsorship.

Sign up here!

Year 12 and 13 students from Plympton Academy spent the day at St Luke’s to learn more about the role of hospice care in our community and the skills required to pursue a career in health and social care. The students are studying the BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Health and Social Care.

If your school or college is interested in a similar experience, please contact Sister Sue Horsfall | shorsfall@stlukes-hospice.org.uk or call 01752 401172.


Last year, the wonderful crew of the six yachts that took part in the Eddystone Pursuit on behalf of St Luke’s raised a fantastic £4,000 in prize money and sponsorship – enough for us to care for four patients and their families at home.

We’d love to match – or surpass! – that figure this year, to help us care for more people who need our compassionate care.

The Eddystone Pursuit is the South West’s biggest sailing fundraising event and is a 26 mile challenge to the Eddystone Lighthouse and back.

This year’s event is on 23 June and you can sign up from today. In doing so, you’ll experience an exhilarating challenge while making a difference to our patients when time is short.

If you have a boat or have the skills to lend a hand on deck and want to support St Luke’s, please contact Pete Ward in our Fundraising Department on 01752 492626 or email pward@stlukes-hopice.org.uk

In the second summary of his thought-provoking articles on hospice care, Dr Jeff Stephenson, St Luke’s Consultant in Palliative Care and Medical Director, focuses on the challenges facing hospices – and how we’re preparing to meet them.

“St Luke’s and other hospices face major challenges as we work out how to respond to the anticipated changes in our society and the economic uncertainties. The hospice movement is 50 years old and its story has in many respects changed the narrative of the dying and bereaved in our society for the better. But movements peter out and influence wanes, and it is the next chapter that will determine whether in another 50 years time the story is alive and as positive as it is now, or just a footnote in history.

“More than 1 in 5 people in north, east and west Devon are over the age of 65, and by 2021 this will have risen to almost 1 in 4. Nationally, by 2035 half of all people dying will be aged over 85. As we get older the likelihood of living and dying with more than one medical condition rises dramatically, with consequences on health and social care provision. For instance, the number of people with dementia is projected to double by 2051. And all this at a time when money is getting tighter. The NHS is already creaking at the seams, and hospices are feeling the squeeze as it becomes harder to raise money. It isn’t just a case of how we are going to pay for the necessary care, but also who is going to provide it and where?

“One way for hospices to respond would be to focus on our buildings and beds. But that would be putting our heads in the sand, and it would diminish our impact on the bigger story. Only 5% of deaths happen in a hospice, and this proportion will reduce as the number of deaths rises. But times of great challenge are times of great opportunity. What if those with a terminal illness could be supported wherever they are? What if you didn’t have to be in a hospice bed in order to be confident of having a good death?

“At St Luke’s this has become our vision – a community where no person has to die alone, in pain or in distress. We have embraced the concept of ‘hospice without walls’, taking the principles and values of hospice care into every care setting. We launched a crisis team and have embarked on projects to reach out to the homeless community and those in prison.

“We realise that we can’t reach everyone directly, so have invested in education and training for nursing homes and other professionals, and we are collaborating directly with other providers in the region. We are also embracing new technology to find new ways of providing care.

“We also recognise that to achieve anywhere near our vision is going to require the whole community to engage with death and dying, and bring it out of the shadows and the remit of professionals alone. We all have a terminal condition – it is called life! There are already many community groups and individuals supporting those with terminal illness, and we need to support, encourage and multiply them.

“Our hospices are national treasures, but if they are not to become white elephants we need to adapt to the changing environment. And perhaps public perception needs to change a little as well. When we give to, and fundraise for hospices, we need to understand that they represent far more than beds, available to check into should we or our loved ones ever need to – and that that’s okay, because there is so much more at stake here. It is about changing the story for the better for thousands of people every year for whom the reality of a terminal illness crashes in, changing the script of their anticipated future.”

Each February, Student Volunteering Week encourages students to get involved with civic life and make a difference.

Among our student volunteers here at St Luke’s are Plymouth University students Olivia Ridholls, 19, and Georgina Miller, 21. They told us about their roles and what volunteering with our charity means to them.

Second-year business student Olivia said: “I’ve been aware of St Luke’s for a long time as my parents do the Lottery and I’ve seen the branding around the city. When I wanted to give some time to making a difference locally, I knew I couldn’t do better than volunteer with St Luke’s.
“I’m with the Events team within Fundraising one day a week and have a great title – Volunteer Treasure Hunter! This means I’m often on the phone talking to various businesses and encouraging them to support St Luke’s by donating goods for our events. For example, I recently helped by securing 27 barrels of beer from Salcombe Brewery for our Men’s Day Out – that’s 1,950 pints!

“I love the role and it’s a great fit for my business course, too. Since starting at St Luke’s my confidence has really grown, which helped me when I applied for a placement as part of the next stage of my degree. I couldn’t have asked to be with a nicer team, and I would love to come back and continue volunteering here during my final year.”

Georgina, who is studying for a masters degree in brand design and management, said: “I’m mum to my six-year-old son as well as being a student, but I really wanted to volunteer as well because I feel it’s important to give something back.

“I enjoy volunteering with St Luke’s so much that I have not just one role, but two! I started with one day a week in the Drake charity shop in the city centre. Later, through a business networking event at the University, I heard about the opportunity with the Events team and learned a lot more about the various sides of the charity. I joined in June and help in any way that’s needed, from placing signage and stock-taking to briefing other volunteers. I love the variety and the people.

“I’m really proud to be part of St Luke’s and volunteering here is giving me really helpful examples I can use in my coursework, so it’s benefiting my studies too. Working in fundraising is great experience for a marketing career so this is ideal for me, and I know I’m helping a fantastic charity at the same time.”

What can you do to make Plymouth a compassionate place for everyone living, studying and working here? That’s the big topic drawing people from across education, the arts, business, health, charities and the voluntary sector to join the conversation at the Compassionate City Conference on 17 May, facilitated by St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth.

As part of Dying Matters Awareness Week (14 – 20 May), the charity is facilitating the event to highlight the positive work already happening across the city while encouraging co-operation and collaboration to address current and future challenges.

According to the Compassionate City Charter for end of life, a compassionate city is a community that recognises that all natural cycles of sickness and health, birth and death, love and loss occur every day across our society. It defines a compassionate community as one that recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not solely a task for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility.

Key speakers at the event include Allan Kellehear, Professor of Sociology and Compassionate Care at the University of Bradford and author of ‘Compassionate Cities: Public Health and End of Life Care’, and Tam Martin Fowles, UK Ambassador for the Charter for Compassion International, Hope in the Heart CIC.

In addition, delegates will hear about inspirational case studies, including those relating to St Luke’s work with the homeless and prisoners, and participate in round table discussions to share information, ideas and form actions that can make a difference in any setting, from schools and colleges to places of worship, the workplace, care homes and cafes.

Speaking about the conference, Abenaa Gyamfuah-Assibey, St Luke’s Community Development Worker, said: “We’re proud to be part of this vital conversation, which will encourage the kind of joined-up thinking our city needs to put ideas into action and see positive outcomes that will support everyone at times of difficulty and loss, regardless of their age or background.

“An important part of this – as outlined in the charter – is raising awareness around death and dying, loss and care. It is in communities and workplaces that we need to tackle these ‘taboo’ subjects, and for this to happen we need to work together with everyone who has an interest in having a more open discussion.”

The conference takes place  at Boringdon Park Golf Club from 8.30am to 5pm. Places are £10 per person and can be booked online.

Cuz Cussen is a man on a mission, giving Plymouth people a live music extravaganza to remember while raising as much money as possible for St Luke’s and the care we give our patients and their families.

Cuz is the man behind the city’s annual two-day Rockfest, which will reach its tenth anniversary of raising money for St Luke’s this spring. He started the event 17 years ago, fundraising for various charities close to his heart, and it was following the death of his beloved mum Dot, in May 2008, that he decided to donate all the money raised each year to St Luke’s.

During the last few months of her life, Dot received care from St Luke’s and spent her last few days at Turnchapel. Seeing at first hand the dedication and compassion of our team meant that St Luke’s gained a special place in Cuz’s heart, which has spurred him on to raise an incredible £77,932 through Rockfest for our end of life care.

Cuz, who sadly lost his father just a few months after Dot passed away, works tirelessly to organise and deliver the event at Crash Manor nightclub in Union Street. With 20 bands playing everything from rock to reggae and blues to punk over the two days, plus a raffle with a variety of great prizes, it is a regular fixture in the city and Cuz is always moved by the generosity of those who support it.

“The bands play for no fee, and I’m always blown away by how generously people give at Rockfest,” said Cuz. “I think it’s all a testament to how many people’s lives have been touched by St Luke’s and how highly we all think of the charity. It’s my aim to just keep going and get to £100,000 by 2020. Organising it all is very intense – I’m running on empty afterwards – but what a buzz! It is great to be giving something back to the place that cared for mum so well.”

This year’s Rockfest is on 31 March and 1 April (1pm until late). Tickets are £10 per day on the door and as it is a family-friendly event, entry for under-18s is free, although they can’t stay past 7.30pm.

Bands confirmed for this year include Stone Vulture, Rusty Angels and Funky Munks.

Keep on rocking, Cuz – we appreciate all you do for us!

Get involved…
Rockfest 2018 on Facebook
Rockfest 2018 on Twitter

 

As two of the city’s most popular fundraising events are launched this month, St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is laying down a challenge to men and women in the community – who can raise the most funds for the vital end of life care the charity provides?

Men’s Day Out and the ladies’ Neon Midnight Walk are two of St Luke’s flagship events, raising money to help ensure it can continue to give free and outstanding care to people living with a life limiting progressive illness, as well as supporting their families.

Both events are an opportunity for people to gather their friends, walk in memory of loved ones and create new memories while enjoying the fun atmosphere.

This year’s Men’s Day Out, on Saturday 24 March, is set to be manlier than ever. Powered by IU Energy, the day of rugby and banter will see 2,000 men – many in fancy dress – walking a 12km route through Plymouth city centre and along the South West Coast Path before enjoying a well-earned pasty and pint at Plymouth Albion RFC, where they’ll see Albion take on Coventry in a top of the table clash.

Events Fundraiser Rebecca Kelly said, “Men’s Day Out, generously sponsored by IU Energy, is hugely popular and sells out fast, so we’re urging our male supporters to register now to avoid disappointment. It’s a chance for them to do their bit, remember loved ones and have a great time.”

Registration for the event is £32, which provides a t-shirt, pasty, pint and rugby match ticket as well as covering the logistics of the day.

Also putting their best foot forward for St Luke’s will be thousands of women ‘getting their glow on’ to take part in this summer’s Neon Midnight Walk, on Saturday 21 July. The event, sponsored by Nash & Co Solicitors, will see the ladies striding along a 3, 6 or 13.1 mile route from the Piazza, Royal Parade, through Plymouth, remembering loved ones and enjoying the electric atmosphere with their friends.

There will be a warm-up with party tunes at the Piazza before the first walkers set off at 9pm. This year’s warm up will be lead by Cheezifit, the new craze that’s sweeping Plymouth, the innovative way to exercise whilst listening to your favourite cheesey tunes.

Rebecca Kelly said, “Uniting the women of our community, our Neon Midnight Walk is the city’s favourite ladies’ night out. We’re grateful to Nash & Co Solicitors for supporting this event once again, and we’re urging women of all ages and fitness levels to go even bigger and brighter this year, with neon outfits, lots of sparkle and glow sticks. And we’re introducing some good-natured rivalry – will it be the guys or the girls who raise the most for St Luke’s through these two events?”

Registration for the Neon Midnight Walk costs £22 and includes an exclusive neon t-shirt, as well as a medal and goody bag for all finishers.

Register for either of these events online, or call 01752 492626 for further details.

In the final of a series of articles on our care, Dr Jeffrey Stephenson, consultant in palliative medicine and medical director, explores what makes a good death.

So what makes a good death? In hospice care we certainly have an idea in mind of what a good death looks like: peaceful; in bed; pain and other symptoms controlled; loved ones by the bedside, or at least with that option; relationships restored; affairs in order; closure on the important issues that have arisen. That may not be everyone’s ideal. Some may wish to go out fighting, never accepting the affront of death, ‘raging against the dying of the light’ (Dylan Thomas).

For most people a good death involves being comfortable with symptoms controlled, being with loved ones, and retaining some sense of control and independence for as long as possible. Place of death is often less of a priority than one might expect, given the recent emphasis on achieving preferred place of death. Although many patients express a wish to die at home, this may change as they get nearer the end and the priority becomes feeling safe and not a burden to loved ones.

The top priority for most, being comfortable and pain free, is entirely achievable for almost all, provided there is access to the appropriate medication and staff who understand how to use it safely and effectively. And as a last resort we can sedate the patient for those last hours or days until death. Sadly, we have still not consistently achieved this for all patients dying in any setting, and therein lies the ongoing challenge of service planning and education.

For some people a good death would involve control over the timing and manner of their dying through assisted suicide. Sometimes this is driven by a fear of a difficult death, or a desire to avoid gradual deterioration and increasing dependence with implications on perceptions of dignity. One might suggest that if hospices are genuinely concerned with promoting choice and dignity in dying then assisted suicide should be something they would support. There are certainly strong and valid arguments on both sides of the debate. At the moment assisted suicide remains illegal, and hospices are not in the business of deliberately hastening people’s deaths by any means.

Personally, I am against a change in the law to allow it in any form. While sympathetic and concerned for the distress of individual patients who want it, as a doctor I also have a duty to the wider community, and I am more concerned about the implications for the much larger majority of vulnerable patients who would never otherwise consider it. I believe that, whatever safeguards were put in place, there would be an inevitable slide down a slippery slope, and I am not reassured by the flawed experience of other places that allow it. I do not see how one can prevent a right to die becoming a duty to die in the minds of vulnerable, often elderly patients.

We do not need assisted suicide to give people a comfortable and dignified death. There is of course much that we can’t control as we deteriorate gradually from a chronic illness. But for those of us who have the privilege of being able to prepare for our deaths there are some things we can control. We can set out what we do and don’t want to happen to us as we get more poorly, through wills and advance care planning. We can talk to loved ones and professionals about what is important to us, and appropriate support and medication can be put in place. And we can get our affairs in order, say the things we want to say, reconcile with those who have drifted away for whatever reason.

We can finish well. Our story can end well. And in fact our story needn’t end with our death if our legacy lives on in the lives of those we have touched, whether family, or friends, or strangers who for a brief time joined us in our journey and helped us write the last chapter. St Luke’s is committed to achieving that for as many people as possible, for our whole community. A community where every dying person can feel connected and no person has to die alone. A community where everyone can achieve a peaceful and comfortable death that is free from pain and distress.

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die” (Cicely Saunders).