With a single call from a healthcare professional, people who urgently need specialist end of life care at home can access high-quality and seamlessly co-ordinated rapid response treatment thanks to St Luke’s Urgent Care Service.

The new service unites specialist nurses from Livewell Southwest, Marie Curie and what was formerly known as St Luke’s Crisis Team to provide better co-ordinated care for terminally ill patients during a time of change or at end of life.

The redesigned service makes it easier than ever for those needing our bespoke compassionate care to receive it quickly regardless of their location within St Luke’s catchment area. Importantly, the service also reduces unnecessary admissions to hospital.

The launch of the service saw us welcome ten Livewell Southwest employees – including administrative staff as well as nurses – who have formally transferred to our organisation, donning a new lilac-coloured uniform, and Marie Curie nurses seconded to the team, making 33 staff in total.

Working in partnership with Marie Curie means our urgent care will continue to reach across Plymouth and its surrounding areas from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

Key improvements to the service include a simplified system to reduce paperwork while maintaining quality assurance and the ability to tailor our care more quickly to a patient’s changing needs.

Andrew Shaw, Head of Community Services at St Luke’s, said: “The service was initially launched as a pilot in February 2017. Many patients have benefitted but there is room for enhancement.

“We can now more easily determine where patients are with their condition – stable, unstable, deteriorating or dying – which means they benefit from the right care, at the right level, at their right time. This makes us more effective, enabling us to prioritise patients in most urgent need of our bespoke care, so our time, specialist knowledge and skills are being given when really needed.

“During a terminal illness a patient’s condition varies and their care needs change. Whereas they might require three visits a day for a while, at other times once daily is sufficient. This frees up our time to help more people while not compromising the quality of our care.

“We also follow up with patients when they’re discharged from hospital or our specialist unit at Turnchapel, and – in situations where people no longer require our care because their condition has improved – we work with them and other care providers to make sure they continue to get the appropriate support.

Service Manager Sharon Smerdon said: “The new service is a shining example of how healthcare providers are responding to the challenge of developing a more co-ordinated and person-centred service in line with the government’s Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care.

“When someone is at the end of life, it can be a very worrying time for them and their family, which can be exacerbated if accessing the care is frustrating.

“Being more innovative in the way we work, with a ‘one team’ approach and single point of entry to our service, means we’re more accessible to the GPs and others who refer patients to us. Now, with one call to our service, they can get the feedback they need so that patients can receive the right care more quickly.

“It is encouraging to see how our Crisis team has evolved in this way. We’re so pleased to welcome the new members of the team and looking forward to working with them. We will continue to work closely with Livewell Southwest community nursing teams who care for and support people at the end of life.”

Sharon King, Palliative and End of Life Organisation Lead for Livewell Southwest, said: “Helping someone at the end of their life is a privilege. It’s the last opportunity we get to do the right thing for someone, and at Livewell we share St Luke’s and Marie Curie’s aims to make the service the best it can be.

“By creating this Urgent Care Service, we are making it easier for people, their families and loved ones to get the right help quickly and easily, at a difficult and emotional time.”

Susan Egerton, Clinical Nurse Manager at Marie Curie added: “We have seen a huge benefit to patients and referrers since launching this joint service. By developing the service further, we will not only continue to ease some of the strain a family will experience when a loved one is terminally ill, but also ensure patients receive fantastic care that is right for them, at the right time. We look forward to continuing the great work.”

In true St Luke’s style, the team is sharing its learning with other healthcare providers so that more people benefit.

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From bringing out the baking trays to sporting Santa hats, fundraising in the run-up to Christmas can be a lot of fun, so St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is encouraging local businesses, schools and community groups to get festive on Fridays to help support its vital end of life care.

St Luke’s compassionate specialist team cares for patients 365 days a year and the Christmas period is no different. Over the Christmas week, more than 300 patients will be looked after by the charity’s staff at home, in hospital and at the specialist unit at Turnchapel. The team will also be there supporting patients’ families, and helping them create special memories with their loved one during this special time.

The money raised through Festive Fridays helps ensure this vital care and support continues, and fundraising ideas can be as simple as running a Christmas quiz or a competition to judge the best decoration for the top of the office tree, or donating a small percentage from customers’ bills. Check out our top Christmas jumper picks of 2018.

Pete Ward, Community Fundraiser at St Luke’s, said: “Big or small, we love seeing the creative ways people raise money for St Luke’s, and every penny helps make a difference to our patients and their families.

“Whether a school’s cake sale raises £22 for an hour of a nurse’s care or a large business brings in £206 to fund an urgent visit to a patient at home, Festive Friday is a brilliant way to get together and give something back to your community at this special time of year.”

Register for your free fundraising pack!

For many, Christmas is about making happy memories with family and friends, but if you’ve lost a loved one you sometimes miss them even more during the festivities, and this time of year can feel particularly challenging.

As part of its annual Light up a Life campaign, St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is offering people the opportunity to celebrate the life of a special person no longer with them by dedicating a light on the display that will adorn its specialist unit at Turnchapel this December. Both this and the chance to dedicate a bauble on the charity’s Christmas tree at the unit are available to anyone, regardless of whether their loved one received St Luke’s end of life care.

Light is symbolic of hope in the midst of difficult circumstances, and the lights on the outside of the unit and baubles on the tree in ‘The View’ conservatory at Turnchapel will shine for patients and their families to enjoy this Christmas period.

St Luke’s is also inviting those who’ve lost someone close to join with others in similar circumstances at its uplifting Light up a Life services in December.

These joyous services are taking place at churches across the area. This year’s programme starts with a service at Saltash Wesley Methodist Church on Wednesday 5 December, at 7pm, and is followed by services at Tavistock St Eustachius Church on Thursday 6 December, at 7pm, and the Minster of St Andrew’s, Plymouth, on Tuesday 18 December, at 2pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Those wishing to attend do not need to register or have tickets. There is the opportunity to give voluntary donations on the day.

As is annual tradition, hospice volunteers and keen runners will carry a lit torch all the way from St Luke’s specialist unit at Turnchapel to the Minster of St Andrew’s to light the large candles inside, which are in turn used to light smaller candles held by the congregation.

Rebecca Kelly, Events Fundraiser at St Luke’s, said: “While Christmas is a special time, we know it can often be tinged with sadness when you’ve lost someone dear. It’s traditional for St Luke’s to help people who want to celebrate the life of a lost loved one, and dedicating a light or a bauble are lovely ways to do that and also make a difference to those who need our specialist care.

“In addition, our beautiful Light up a Life services are an opportunity for people who’ve lost loved ones to come together to reflect, celebrate those lives and share their memories.”

It is estimated that over the Christmas week, around 350 patients will be receiving specialist end of life care from St Luke’s as part of the 3,531 patients they treat each year. Donations from the community raised by these and other events support terminally ill people wherever they wish to be cared for – in their homes, at Derriford Hospital or at Turnchapel.

Light up a Life is kindly sponsored by Western Power Distribution.

This Trustees Week (12-16 November) we say a big St Luke’s thank you to our Trustees, all volunteering their time and expertise for the good of our charity.

We caught up with our Chair of The Board, Christina Quinn to find out more about the role of a trustee.


It was a bright and early start for the cream of local businesses we welcomed to Turnchapel today for a Devon Chamber of Commerce Crunchy Breakfast.

Ensuring our workplaces are truly compassionate to staff who are bereaved, living with loss or caring for someone at the end of life was top of the menu.

Over coffee and bacon baps, conversations highlighted how being more aware of staff’s circumstances and taking simple steps – such as adapting existing policies – can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of employees, helping them feel better supported during challenging times.

Bringing the topic into the foreground is all part of the Compassionate City Charter endorsed by Plymouth City Council – watch this space for further news.

As the Kingsbridge article in last month’s Hospice Herald highlighted, in addition to covering busy urban areas such as central Plymouth, St Luke’s care reaches out across rural areas, including the picturesque South Hams.

While picture-postcard pretty, these more isolated places can leave those residents approaching end of life struggling to access the health and social care they need and short on choice when it comes to their preferred place of receiving the specialist help that’s vital at such a difficult time.

Most people with a life limiting progressive illness want to be looked after in the comfort of their own home, close to loved ones. Cathryn Goodchild is a nurse in St Luke’s at home team for the South Hams and covers Modbury through to Chillington, including Kingsbridge, Salcombe and part of South Brent.

Cathryn said: “I’m very much part of team working alongside our physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and my role includes helping to identify patients’ problems, providing symptom control and working with patients and their families to consider options for future care.

“One of the problems is that due to the rural location we can’t automatically access carers through agencies and know that they can visit three or four times a day to meet the needs of our patients and support their carers and families. We’ve had to find alternatives to the ‘traditional’ package of care.”

This challenge has called for a creative and practical approach from St Luke’s to help ensure people in rural areas benefit from high-quality compassionate care in their preferred place. This can include help with washing and dressing, and sometimes overnight care, too. The key is our flourishing partnership with South Hams Hospital, district nurses and local GP surgeries.

Yvonne Bastin, Livewell Southwest Community Sister at South Hams Hospital, said: “Our rural location does present difficulties, and in the summer when there’s a big influx of visitors it impacts on our roads, so it takes much longer to reach patients. The heavy snow earlier this year was also a significant challenge for us.

“But Cathryn and the team are amazing. And it’s not just their practical support – Cathryn gives us advice on medication and getting care. We work well together on completing forms and she’s always there to help, speaking with our doctors, too. If she doesn’t know something, she’ll always find someone who does, whether that’s a St Luke’s doctor or another member of their team.

“Our patients want to be at home, and they know it’s the last place they’ll be. They want to be with their family, and if we can get them the support they need there – well, that’s the whole purpose of our care.”

With numerous charity shops on our high streets, it’s important to stand out when it comes to attracting more customers. And we think our Drake City Centre shop has that extra something that enhances its kerb appeal!

Thanks to City Council grant funding to smarten up shop frontages, the store now boasts attractive new signage that will be subtly illuminated after dark. Take a look next time you’re in the city centre – or perhaps when you’re late night shopping for Christmas – and see our St Luke’s branding standing out 24/7.

Our hearts have been warmed by two local children who’ve shown that as well as being enthusiastic and enterprising, they’re very caring as well.

Gabriel Richardson, who attends St George’s Church of England Primary Academy, got on his bike to take part in Tour de Moor with his dad, Tony, raising nearly £300 for St Luke’s. Aware of the care we give, and of the privilege of being fit and healthy themselves, they harnessed their pedal power in our annual cycling challenge on Dartmoor.

“We’ve often cheered from the sidelines at charity races, but this was an opportunity to get stuck into a challenge together, something a little bit tough, to help people needing St Luke’s specialist care,” said Tony.

“I thought we would cycle in ‘dual formation’ side by side, but Gabe was determined to do the route under his own steam. In the early stages he declared it was the best day of his life. That later changed to “Never again!”, but at bedtime that day – when I reminded him how the hard work he’d put in would help poorly people – he smiled and I just knew he would be happy to do it all over again.

“Gabe has just turned eight and I couldn’t be more proud of him, as is everyone else who supported him. It blew us away that his initial target of raising £100 was met within just 12 hours and, thanks to the generosity of family and friends, this grew to nearly £300. It’s great, too, that the Just Giving page we set up is there for him to look back on as a lovely reminder of what he achieved to help other people.”

Meanwhile, big-hearted Madeleine Newstead got together with her friends at Woodlands School in Ivybridge, to sell cakes, jewellery, paperweights and other items they’d made themselves to raise money for our charity by having a stall at the school. Together, the young entrepreneurs made over £170!

While Maddy is the granddaughter of St Luke’s trustee Steve Newstead, she was not aware of his role with our charity at the time she decided to roll up her sleeves to get cooking and crafting to help us.

Steve said: “Maddy did this off her own bat and she and her friends did a great job. I was delighted to hear that it was all in aid of St Luke’s, and encouraged at their awareness of what our charity is about. It just goes to show, you’re never too young to make a difference.”

It’s always so encouraging when we hear about the challenges our supporters are taking on for St Luke’s, but to hear about an intrepid individual taking on six to raise £40,000? That’s inspiring – and then some!

Busy mum Claire Lemasurier, who lives in Tavistock, generously gives her time to help organise the fundraising skydives for our charity. Now she’s going to greater lengths to raise more funds for our care by taking on six tough expeditions in a year.

To fit in the intensive training needed to tackle her mammoth year of trekking from next April – first in Machu Picchu, followed by Mount Elbrus, Mount Everest base camp, Kilimanjaro and cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia, capped off with the once-in-a-lifetime St Luke’s trek to Malawi in 2020 – Claire dons a 15kg backpack three times a week when she walks to pick her children, aged 10 and 11, from school. She also regularly puts in training at Peak Fitness in Tavistock.

“It’s hard work juggling working, training, volunteering and the kids,” said Claire, who grew up walking on Dartmoor. “But it will be worth it if I can raise all the money. Seeing my kids’ faces when I told them my plan – they were so inspired!”

You can follow Claire’s journey and send her your messages of encouragement at This Girl Can Trek on Facebook and Instagram, help fund her efforts on her GoFundMe page, and if you – or anyone you know – are interested in taking part in our exciting Malawi 2020 Challenge, check out our webpage.

Go, Claire! And thank you for doing something so amazing for St Luke’s.

Can you picture yourself driving about town behind the wheel of a stylish new car? We’re excited to announce that this is the fantastic prize instore for the lucky winner of St Luke’s upcoming raffle!

You’ve got to be in it to win it, so look out for the raffle launch on 12 November, snap up your tickets and you could be the proud owner of a stunning new five-door Suzuki Celerio SZ2 worth over £8,000, and supplied by Rowes Suzuki. Compact yet full of fabulous features, including low CO2 emissions, USB connectivity and alloy wheels, the Celerio is a small car that makes a big impression!

Of course, funds raised from the raffle will support our compassionate care, so please tell family and friends about this amazing opportunity – perhaps you could even pop a raffle ticket inside their Christmas cards this year? Tickets are £1 each and available from our charity shops or online.