Without doubt, all our fundraisers are very special people but we think you’ll agree big-hearted Bridget is extra special.

In just three weeks, fuelled by her passion to make a difference while she can, this inspirational lady has gone from receiving the devastating news of a terminal diagnosis to fundraising for St Luke’s by having her head shaved.

Following her diagnosis in hospital, our compassionate team has been caring for Bridget at home and supporting her family, including husband Keith, whom she met while at school.

Bridget is making every moment count.

If you’d like to show her your support, it’s not too late to donate via Facebook.

St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth has long been renowned locally for the outstanding end of life care it provides across the city and surrounding areas and now the charity has received prestigious national recognition as Hospice Team of the Year.

Staff and volunteers received the accolade in this year’s Hospice UK Awards, which celebrate the innovative work and people in hospices and palliative care organisations across the UK.

St Luke’s entry for the award centred on its Patches pre-bereavement support for young families.

The service – which launched as a pilot in November 2017 – was developed in response to the changing hospice environment, with St Luke’s seeing an increase in the number of patients under 40 needing its specialist care at home, in hospital and at its specialist unit at Turnchapel.

With most of these patients having young children, they have the daunting task of preparing their young children for their death, which can add extra anxiety at an already challenging time. Meanwhile, the youngsters face the heartbreak of losing a parent and can experience feelings of confusion and fear.

With this in mind, and recognising the positive lasting impact of sensitive, age appropriate support for children in these circumstances, staff and volunteers from across the organisation rallied to develop and deliver a solution that provides bespoke support for each individual family as part as of the seamless package of compassionate care for which St Luke’s is known.

Adapting the existing national pre-bereavement support model, clinical and non-clinical teams came together as one, with doctors and nurses sharing ideas and skills with their social care colleagues, the communications and fundraising teams, maintenance and receptionists.

While St Luke’s has an outstanding Patches Family Support Worker in Lisa Carter, who is there for young families facing loss, her work is enabled and supported by a much wider team across St Luke’s.

Patches, the koi carp cartoon character, and the materials he features in to engage young children and help them make memories with their family, was created by talented in-house graphic designer, Jesse-James Cambridge and volunteer illustrator Marie Arroyo Lopez, while the maintenance team transformed the playroom and implemented the Patches trail around the specialist unit at Turnchapel. In addition, staff and volunteer receptionists ensure a warm welcome at the unit and give out direction for the trail.

Since its launch, the service has helped 134 families.

The outstanding teamwork involved stood out to the Hospice UK judging panel who said, “The project has made an impact to not only its service users but also to its own staff and will help promote the hospice to the local community too. The Patches project can be replicated in other hospices very easily.”

On her recent visit to St Luke’s Tracey Bleakley Chief Executive of Hospice UK said: “I am so impressed by the innovation at the hospice actually, and the fact it comes from all levels. It’s a really great culture of everyone listening, learning and innovating from each other. When ideas come from junior members of staff or people out there working with families like Patches, it’s so impressive how everyone supports that all the way through to the board. Money is found for the project, people work together and the outcome is fantastic and what that really means is that it’s a hospice that’s growing and developing with the community and will continue to do so”.

Steve Statham, Chief Executive of St Luke’s, said: “I’m delighted and proud that the passion, dedication and hard work of our staff and volunteers has been recognised nationally by Hospice UK.

“The hospice movement is renowned for being pioneering, willing to take on a challenge, respond and adapt. Our Patches pre-bereavement support is a shining example of hospice care at its most creative, and it is really heart-warming to see how many families have been helped and how many young lives have been made just that little bit easier.”

Patches is kindly supported by The Morrisons Foundation.

Learn more about Patches.

Watch the behind the scenes making of Patches

Helping care home staff by increasing their knowledge and competence improves care and decreases referrals to stretched NHS services, so it’s great news that our recent Health Education England grant has enabled us to deliver beneficial training that is already making a difference.

Our first cohort of 8 care home students gathered at our Brooklands, Crownhill offices recently to celebrate completing St Luke’s Care Home Assessment of the Sicker Person (CHASP) programme.

Recognising that older people in care homes have increasingly complex needs and require access to good quality nursing care, this new programme supports staff to enhance their clinical skills and minimise avoidable admissions to acute care in hospital.

In addition to learning valuable skills, all the students positively spoke on how the programme gave them a real confidence boost as Emma Peffers at Meadowside and St Francis Care Homes, explains “It gives us the confidence to be able to assess a patient instead of going straight to the registered nurse. We now know what we are looking for, confident to facilitate the observations and then go to the registered nurse which ultimately saves valuable time.”

For care homes providing support around Dementia, the programme provides additional benefits as Ewa Kalend, Care Manager at Greenacres, explains “We deal with people that live with Dementia and often we can’t ask a simple question to establish if they are well or not. The training has given us more confidence to make a judgement and develop our skills further.

Ewa added, for the first time we went into something that has really made a massive change with our confidence. Knowing that there is a St Luke’s team that you can always phone, ask about basics and reassure you that you are doing the right thing, is a massive help.”

Su Jameson, End of Life Clinical Educator at St Luke’s, said: “This grant will further improve the good relationship we have already with care homes. This investment in the professional development of their staff recognises the key role they play in providing care in Plymouth with the aim to improve their knowledge and skills, benefiting both the residents of the care homes and increases the staff morale”.

“It also helps raise the profile of our education team and the diverse training they can offer.”

Learn more about our courses

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.

Learn more

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.