This year at St Luke’s we celebrate our 35th anniversary and what better way than to thank the people who make our care possible – the staff and volunteers.

Earlier this week our senior managers hit the offices and wards to say thank you, delivering a few suprises on the way. With over 300 staff and almost 1,000 volunteers split across four sites at Turnchapel, Crownhill, Plympton and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, it has certainly kept them fit.

At St Luke’s we strive to be an employer of distinction and choice, after all our staff and volunteers are what make our care possible.

From nursing, social care and occupational therapy; to finance, administration, fundraising and maintenance – all our roles play a key part in helping us deliver care to 3,400 patients every year.

If you are considering your next career move, why not register for our job alerts. Who knows, next year we could be thanking you.

Joy Clarke, a well loved member of the Retail team based at Plympton, is retiring at the end of November after eight and half years’ dedicated service.

Joy returned to live in Plymouth from Torquay following the death of her partner. Keen to work and with good knowledge of St Luke’s gained through fundraising via a local Lion’s Club, she soon proved herself a great asset, working on everything from logistics to sorting through bric-a-brac donations.

Particularly enjoying the research involved, Joy quickly developed something of an eye for spotting ‘buried treasure’ among the piles of donated items and selecting those most likely to fetch a good price at auction. In her first year, sales from the auctions soared from £800 to £12,000 and gradually Joy’s hours increased until she became full time.

“It’s always felt as though I was a good fit for working here,” said Joy, whose varied background includes tailoring, working for a hi-fi business, driving a fork-lift truck for a lubricants company and some time with beauty brand Clinique. “I’ve seen my role evolve and have loved being part of the team, the happy atmosphere and working alongside our fantastic volunteers. My heart and mind has always been St Luke’s.”

A particular high point for Joy was seeing the Retail team hit its £1million profit target last year. The incredible team spirit is just one of the reasons she has not found it an easy decision to retire, but she plans to retain links by volunteering in our shops and continuing the fundraise for
St Luke’s. Joy wants to combine this with spending more time with family. In fact, supporting charities is in the blood, with Joy’s grand-daughter recently having her long tresses cut for the Little Princess Trust, which provides real hair wigs to children who have lost their hair through illness, and donating her sponsorship to
St Luke’s.

“I will miss being part of the team full time,” said Joy, who also plans to spend more time on craft projects. “But I will be a very willing volunteer – I definitely won’t be a stranger!”

We wish Joy much happiness in her retirement.

Central to the compassionate care we provide, St Luke’s nurses are precious. Sponsoring them makes a real difference to patients’ lives, but did you know this invaluable support comes from businesses and other organisations as well as from individuals?

Plymouth Argyle Football Club has put its best foot forward to provide sponsorship for just this cause, and sent some of its players to the specialist unit recently to see for themselves the outstanding care provided by our team.

During their visit, the football players met the nurses and had a tour around the building. They also heard how staff work with patients and families to create lasting positive memories.

“It’s a truly amazing place, there is no detail that goes uncovered” said one of the team. “One thing that really stands out is the amount of care that goes into this place. “My expectation was that it might be kind of morbid but in actual fact it could not be further from that, I think it’s inspirational, not just what the nurses do, but also the doctors and volunteers. One volunteer told me that if she ever needed this sort of assistance she would have no qualms about coming here. That says a lot about the place it really is a brilliant job that they do here, the care that goes into the patients is completely evident.

For young people it’s so easy to turn a blind eye to things like this, being poorly isn’t something that you would like to think about. But there is so much good work that goes on here and if ever we had loved ones coming here, they would certainly see for themselves what a good positive place this is.

This is a place that you must see for yourself to really appreciate how much good work goes on. If anyone had any misconception about St Luke’s, then coming here would let them see how amazing it is.

It has completely changed my perceptions and I have only been here an hour. It’s really clear how important it is to the nurses, how much it means to them. Clearly, it is more than just a job.”

“Plymouth Argyle’s support means so much to us,” says nurse Teresa Bickle, part of the nursing team. “Footballers are role models for children and teenagers and we hope that through their engagement with them the club can help us bust myths around death, dying and hospices. Encouraging the younger age group feel more comfortable around these subjects and telling them about our work will help ensure St Luke’s can continue providing crucial end of life care for generations to come.”

Interested in joining the Sponsor a Nurse program, or want to know more about the work of our nurses? Visit our sponsor a nurse page here.

St Luke’s is much more than just hands on care, our compassionate staff go that extra mile to create lasting memories for our patients.

When specialist unit sister Karen noticed a photo by the side of a patient’s bed it prompted a conversation that led to something extraordinary. The photo was of the patient as a young girl, walking along Salcombe beach.

“If I could do anything before I die, it would be to have one last walk along the beach – but I know it’s just not possible” said the patient. Knowing how much this meant to the patient, sister Karen knew she had to do something.

A few emails and conversations later, staff were rallying across all sites to make this dream a reality. The warehouse team sent across beach related items; nurses visited Mountbatten beach to collect sand and water; and word soon spread to the local garden centre in Endsleigh who also came up trumps with props to assist.

In just 48 hours, The View (previously known as the conservatory) in Turnchapel was transformed into an indoor beach of epic proportions.

“As soon as the patient saw what we had created, she cried.” said sister Karen. “She took off her slippers and put her feet in the sand, paddled in the sea water and rubbed the seaweed between her toes. Being able to touch, feel and smell the beach meant so much to her and brought back her childhood memories. It was just the patient and I in the room, and I felt so privileged to be part of this moment. It was something I will never forget.”

Karen added, “This really captures what hospice care is all about, creating memories and trying our very best to make dreams a reality. It also demonstrates just what an amazing team we have here at St Luke’s and the compassion they have to offer. There was so many departments outside the wards uniting to make this possible, so thank you to everyone involved.”

Weddings, a final boat trip, a visit from a horse, virtual reality diving and now a visit to the beach have all been made possible by our caring staff in the last 12 months alone. No matter the ask, we will always rise to the challenge and create lasting memories for our patients and their families that will last forever.

To mark the end of Hospice Care Week, it was mud, sweat and gears this weekend as over a thousand intrepid cyclists came together to pit themselves against the wilds of Dartmoor for the St Luke’s Tour de Moor cycling challenge, generously sponsored by Print Copy Scan.

On Sunday 15 October the annual off road bike challenge – a complete sell-out – raised an estimated £80,000 thanks to the 1,300 participants who took on the off-road 11km, 23km or 52km routes from Harrowbeer Airfield, Yelverton.

For many it wasn’t just about a fun muddy challenge across Dartmoor, but a chance to remember a loved one and witness first hand how far St Luke’s care reaches beyond Plymouth. Rebecca Kelly, Events Fundraiser for St Luke’s, said: “With almost half of our care taking place at home, the bikers will have travelled through some of the most remote Dartmoor villages and experienced the challenges our nurses face every day to provide this care at home, day or night and in every type of weather imaginable”. It is this care that drives people to get out of bed at 6am on a misty Sunday morning, hop on a bike and do their bit for charity.

Riding in memory of Dad, Edward was Dave Noble from Eggbuckland: “Dad had a sudden onset of dementia and was admitted to St Luke’s at Turnchapel. The care and compassion the doctors and nurses gave to him in his final weeks was outstanding. Taking part today is my way of saying thank you to St Luke’s and raising a bit of cash to helping others who may need the support from this incredible charity in years to come.”

Chris Putt from Elburton also riding the 52km in memory of his mum Peggy said,: “Without the help of St Luke’s I don’t know how we would have coped. Supporting the charity is so important because it does such fantastic work.”

“Hats off, or should I say helmets to all the marshals and volunteers who gave up their Sunday to help out. The 52km was quite tricky in places and very hard going up past the scout hut to Princetown, but best of all plenty of mud a puddles!” said Lindsey Lee Pritchard from Honicknowle.

Di Foster added, “My first year and wow! The toughest most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do. Will I be back next year, you bet I will be – I had far too much fun.”

It was a family outing for Matt Kelley and his son Toby (aged 11) from Modbury. “This is for Dad, a firefighter at Plymstock who we really miss. He would often volunteer for St Luke’s and in his final days he received such great care from the hospice.”

Rebecca Kelly, Events Fundraiser for St Luke’s, added: “What an amazing day! We’re so grateful to all who braved the course. Our riders have pledged enough to look after 80 families at home in the year ahead and that’s a fantastic achievement for everyone involved. They did us proud!”

St Luke’s would like to thank local firm Print Copy Scan for their sponsorship of this year’s event, as well as recognising the kindness of the Maristow Estate and Buckland Abbey for the use of their land, the Devon and Cornwall Rescue Team and St John’s Ambulance for their vital support and the Plume of Feathers pub for help with facilities.

St Luke’s provides care for people dealing with life-limiting illnesses everywhere from Salcombe to East Cornwall, via Tavistock and the moors, supporting families as much as patients. The charity supports around 3,500 people and their families each year, vital services which it needs to raise over £4 million to provide.

View chip times here!

For many, lymphoedema is an unknown word, something that fortunately they may never have to come across.

But for those that do, it can go from being an unknown word to a daily part of their routine.

Lymphoedema is thought to affect more than 200,000 people in the UK. When you look up the definition, lymphoedema is described as a long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs.

Our lymphoedema team, led by Cheryl Brown along with practitioners Annabel Sansom and Jo Vella, provide care and encourage self management to patients dealing with lymphoedema, through specialist education and treatment, allowing them to manage their condition on a daily basis.

The most common form of treatment is using multi-layer bandaging and compression garments, which provide a firm casing for the muscles to work against to aid fluid drainage and limit the build-up of lymph fluid.

Roland Monger, aged 37 from Downderry in Cornwall was one such individual who had never come across lymphoedema. “It was a word I wouldn’t have been able to spell it and certainly didn’t know what it meant.”
That was until last year Roger became affected by it following surgery to remove a cancerous tumour. He tells his story, “In 2016 I had a diagnosis of skin cancer, which was quite a large tumour in my groin. When the tumour was removed they had to take some of the lymph nodes out, this resulted in the lymph fluid not been able to drain from my body properly in my right leg.”

Fiancé Gemma Turner added “After the surgery, my fiancé had an appointment with Jo at St Luke’s to determine if he had lymphoedema and the severity of it. Lymphoedema came as a shock to me, I’m an eternal optimist and in my mind, the tumour was out and that was that, so after speaking to Jo and finding out his condition was forever, was a shock.

“I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect before our first meeting with Jo, I’d never been to St Luke’s and I was expecting quite a depressing place. I was relieved to be completely wrong about that. We sat in the café admiring the views and spotting all the Plymouth landmarks while waiting for the appointment. Jo was lovely, we were both nervous, and she put us at ease immediately, she explained everything she was doing and gave us so much more information about the condition and how to manage it. We left feeling much more confident about the future.”
Roger adds: “I now wear a stocking which I have to come up to St Luke’s to get checked. This allows the leg to be compressed and the lymph fluid to be pushed and to exit my body correctly, so my skin stays healthy and my system work properly.

The nurses have been fantastic at giving me solutions that work with me. I know quite often some of the patients they work with are older than I am and haven’t got chunky legs like I have. They have had issues to get the stockings to fit correctly and stay up, but they don’t just stop and say put up with what you have got, they keep measuring and adjusting to find solutions.”

“In the past I have always donated to St Luke’s. To actually see where the money is going and what it is doing is really powerful. So if you have a friend or a relative that needs to come here for treatment, maybe volunteer to bring them up. There is a really nice café, great view of Plymouth and it might just help you understand where your money is going and where that support helps.”

St Luke’s lymphoedema service is provided on behalf of the NHS, 37% funded by the generous support of St Luke’s supporters. As well as their service at Turnchapel, the team run a clinic on the first Friday of every month at Tavistock Triangle Centre and every other month at Kingsbridge Hospital Triangle Centre.

Read more about Roland’s journey online via his blog: https://ididitsite.wordpress.com/

When faced with a long term health condition or disability, it is important to have a say in how your care is delivered. Choice and ensuring the care is tailored to your specific needs is paramount.

In 2014 the NHS reviewed the way healthcare costs were distributed and created personal healthcare budgets, giving everybody a voice in how their health and wellbeing needs are delivered.

It isn’t new money, but a different way of spending health funding to meet the needs of an individual explains St Luke’s clinical educator, Su Jameson “A personal health budget may be used for a range of things to meet agreed health and wellbeing outcomes. This can include therapies, personal care and equipment. What often comes as a surprise is that your care doesn’t necessarily have to be provided by a healthcare professional, it could be a relative or anyone, it is your choice.”

In response to local demand our education department are now offering courses to help and guide anyone with an approved personal healthcare budget. “Once the budget is in place, we can assist in training the carers with the skills they need to be able to care for that individual. The training can take place at home and will be bespoke to the care needs of the individual. Each course is unique, care requirements will differ from person to person, so you can’t simply roll out the same training to everybody”.

Zak Hughes, aged 21 from Yealmpton is one of the first to take advantage of St Luke’s new training service. “Personal healthcare budgets can be a bit daunting, I knew I wanted choice in my care and to become more independent, but I needed a little help.”

Mum Wendy said: “Zak has had a rare neuromuscular condition, myotubular myopathy (www.myotubulartrust.org) since birth, affecting his breathing, swallowing and mobility. For him, something as simple as opening an envelope is impossible.” Zak’s mum and dad had always been closely involved in managing his daily needs with some support from a care agency in his teenage years. Naturally, on reaching adulthood, Zak felt it was time to take things into his control, starting with employing his own team of carers.

Arriving at Zak’s home with bags of medical equipment and five medical manikins, trainers Su Jameson and Mike Thomas delivered a seven hour advanced learning practical and theory course for his six carers. “Not all of his carers came from a previous career in nursing” said Su. For Zak, our training was centred around recognising a deteriorating adult, basic life support, nasopharyngeal suctioning, medicine management and pressure area care management. This course not only gives the carers confidence to manage Zak’s needs, but also makes them feel they are fulfilling their personal and professional development.”

Attending the course were six care assistants Mel, Vicky, Faye, Honey, Steve and Jemma. “You can tell that they are professional trainers, it was so in-depth, but delivered at a level everyone could understand. It was the best training I think we’ve ever had and delivered with a sense of humour and fun which made it really memorable.”

While Zak feels that it is important for his carers to feel invested to help them maintain fulfilment in their work, it is also equally important to him that as well as being people who he has things in common with, they are also confident in delivering care of the highest quality. “I would like to say a big thank you to St Luke’s for their role in doing just that!” said Zak.

Our education department is run by a multidisciplinary team of nurses, physiotherapists and public health professionals offering external training courses to healthcare workers. They specialise in courses focussed on upskilling healthcare professionals linked to palliative and end of life, alongside providing general healthcare training. All profits from the courses are invested into our service to help deliver care to over 3,400 patients every year.

Care at home and avoiding unnecessary visits to Plymouth hospitals is a key priority says local hospice charity.

Research from Dying Matters, a national coalition which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, states more than 70% of people wish to die peacefully at home. St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth care at home teams are helping to make this a reality for residents in Tavistock as they work in partnership with other healthcare professionals to put end of life care on the agenda locally.

Hospice Care Week, the annual week celebrating the work hospices do, falls between 9 – 15 October and this year the theme is ‘We are Hospice Care’, highlighting the many faces of people involved in hospice care throughout the country. From St Luke’s nurses to the healthcare providers that work alongside, Hospice Care Week is about celebrating everyone involved in providing and supporting hospice care.

St Luke’s is leading end of life care in Tavistock, working in close partnership with local GPs, Livewell Southwest district nurses, Tavistock Hospital and Brentor and Moor Compassionate Neighbours. The St Luke’s at home team provides the support to enable people to remain in the comfort of their own homes, reducing unnecessary journeys to Plymouth hospitals and ensuring that they receive the care they need in the last months, weeks and days of life.

Derek Hart is the dedicated St Luke’s specialist nurses for the Tavistock area and has been working for the local charity for the last six years. Derek can travel up to 100 miles a day visiting terminally ill patients in their homes, offering support, guidance and medical care and advice. He supports patients throughout Tavistock and the surrounding area. In the last year Derek has made 605 patient visits. Almost half of all these visits took place in rural outlying areas including Princetown, and up across to Bere Alston, Mary Tavy and Lifton. Although the majority of Derek’s patients are seen in their own homes, Derek also works closely with Livewell Southwest staff at Tavistock Hospital, local care homes and agencies and has even received funding from The Burdett Trust to facilitate end of life care at Dartmoor prison, helping to deliver symptom and pain management to prisoners with terminal illnesses.

Derek wants to ensure that wherever possible, his patients are cared for where they want to be, in a familiar setting or environment. “Many of our patients don’t want to go all the way to a Plymouth hospital. They would prefer to stay locally in their own homes or at Tavistock Hospital, which many feel can be more relaxed and not as busy as a ward in an acute hospital.”

A key aspect of the end of life care provision that St Luke’s provides in Tavistock and the surrounding area is partnership work, ensuring that patients receive the best possible end of life care. Derek says, “When facing the rural challenges of Dartmoor we have to ensure that our care is coordinated with other local healthcare professionals, with effective communication, using our resources more efficiently, to deliver patient care, but also giving a higher standard of end of life care as well.”

These challenges mean that Derek and his team have to think efficiently when visiting patients, often undertaking joint visits with other local healthcare professionals or planning to fulfil a patient’s medication needs.

Harry Lee Cutler, Livewell Southwest GP at Tavistock Hospital said, “St Luke’s is really important. We get a few palliative care patients in this hospital and they can have quite complex needs that require specialist input. St Luke’s have that extra bit of time to be able to run through their symptoms and offer advice with specialist medications to ensure that patients are comfortable and their holistic needs are met at end of their life. They can also provide this care right here in Tavistock without the need for patients to go into the unit at Turnchapel or Derriford.”

Jane Martin, Livewell Southwest Community Sister at Lifton surgery and district nurse for the Tavistock area, works alongside Derek and St Luke’s on a regular basis, said, “Compassion is fundamental to all nursing care, but even more fundamental is the provision of caring for dying people and those close to them. Working in partnership and having frequent communication with Derek are paramount in the rural area we serve. He has the specialist knowledge of guiding us throughout the patients care in particular with pain relief and symptom control. Our joint home visits are so beneficial to the patient, dedicating time to talk through any worries or concerns and providing a coordinated package of care to ensure they remain at home.”

Derek has also been instrumental in creating the Tavistock Palliative Care Forum, providing an opportunity for local healthcare professionals to join together every few months to share their skills and knowledge and help to deliver a seamless end of life palliative care journey. Derek says, “Education and communication are the two prime factors for effective working here in Tavistock and I think that utilising all our skills and helping to support each other are paramount in achieving this.”

However, the care Derek and his team provide for the people of Tavistock goes far beyond hands-on care. A key part of the work Derek does is encouraging conversations around advanced care planning, working closely with Brentor and Moor Compassionate Neighbours to help communities come together in care provision. For more information visit: www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/compassionatecommunities

“Living in such a rural area does mean that traditionally it has felt difficult for some patients to get access to support, which means they become more reliant on the involvement of family members with the delivery of care. With an aging population it is important that we help to find new support networks for residents. That is why we work to educate carers and other healthcare professionals in delivering end of life care and in doing so we are helping to develop compassionate communities, giving everyone a responsibility when it comes to end of life care.”

Derek concludes, “We do still have work to do and constantly adapting the care and support we provide to meet the needs of the Tavistock community and an ageing UK population. End of life care is high on the agenda in Tavistock and I believe as a collective of healthcare professionals we are making a real difference to the Tavistock community.”

 

With just over six weeks remaining until this year’s Tour de Moor, we are still looking for volunteers to help on the day (Sunday 15 October).

We need volunteers to help with various tasks; you could be involved with anything from marshaling to sweeping; helping with the registration of all of our participants; to giving out water and saying thank you!

We’ll be holding a briefing nearer the event where we will explain the various roles and answer any questions. Any help throughout the day would be gratefully received, so please let us know your availability.

If you are able to help at the Tour de Moor, or would like some more information, please get in touch with the St Luke’s fundraising team, who will be delighted to have you on board. Don’t forget you can still sign up to take part at www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/tourdemoor

Meet our caring and very very brave nurse Emma, who will be jumping out a plane next Saturday for St Luke’s.

Having only joined St Luke’s six months ago as a nurse on our specialist unit at Turnchapel, Emma is keen to get stuck in and raise some cash for patient care.

“It’s something I have always wanted to do and when I heard that St Luke’s organise regular Skydives, I jumped at the chance” said Emma.

“The most daring thing I have ever done is go in a helicopter and skiing, so this is jumping in at the deep end”.

Emma commutes every day from St Austell to St Luke’s “I’ve always had an interest in end of life care, since my Uni days. When I left Uni I went to work in a community hospital in Cornwall to get some general nursing experience, but when the post came up at St Luke’s it was a dream job for me. Hospice care is a very rewarding area to work in and I feel privileged to spend time with people at end of life”

Emma has already raised £500. If you would like to show her your support, check out her fundraising page.

It is not to late to join Emma next Saturday on a St Luke’s Skydive. Pledge a minimum of £345 sponsorship and you can jump for free. Sign up online.