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.

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.

St Luke's Physiotherapist

St Luke's Physiotherapist

Did you know that St Luke’s now has a physiotherapist?

Alison Carlyon joined St Luke’s at the beginning of July as our new physiotherapist.

Alison comes to St Luke’s with a wealth of experience working in a palliative care environment, having worked for Children’s Hospice South West since 2005.

Alison felt the decision to join the St Luke’s team was the natural next step for her.

“There is something about hospices,” she says, “time is a luxury there and the quality of care you can give someone really does make a difference, that is what drew me to St Luke’s.”

The role of a physiotherapist in palliative care is to help patients overcome their limitations in order to improve their quality of life. Physiotherapy can also help patients to manage and cope with difficult symptoms such as breathlessness and anxiety. Alison will be working with patients to help them with their movement and balance as they adapt to their changing condition, as well as providing guidance and advice to them and their family and carers to ensure that their pain is controlled and maximum comfort is maintained.

Alison, who is based over at Brooklands with the community team, describes her role as “supporting a patient the best you can in the worst possible situation.” She is working alongside our community team helping patients to be as comfortable as possible in the last months, weeks and days of life. Alison’s day to day involvement with patients can be anything from supporting mobility, chest treatments for respiratory problems, to positioning in the last days of life.

Alison will be spending time with patients in our specialist unit as well as out in the community, seeing people in their own homes and in her words, “supporting them to live as happily and as comfortably as possible”. She is also hoping to set up an outpatient clinic on a Thursday afternoon which will run via referrals.

Here at St Luke’s one of our key aims is to educate and empower our community to encourage everyone to play a part in providing quality end of life care. Our education team have proven that they are doing just that.

In a recent audit of the Six Steps Care Homes, it is clear that all our End of Life Champions have been working hard to maintain the End of Life Quality Markers. The following statistics show the improvements made in the quality of end of life care for patients that have died in a care home within a six month period between September 2016 – February 2017.

  • 100% had a Treatment Escalation plan in place
  • 80% had their preferred place of death met
  • 72% had an Advance Care Plan conversation recorded
  • 78% had Anticipatory Drugs in place

The audit also showed that care home staff are accessing services like GPs and specialist nurses less as they feel more skilled to manage end of life care.

When compared with the previous audit, which covered years one to three of the programme, the figures showed an increase across the end of life standards achieved for patients in the care homes.

Education and development manager Paula Hine said, “This has been really encouraging for all of us, it shows that our End of Life Care Champions are feeling more confident and empowered in their role within an end of life setting. The training and workshops that we run provide our champions and care home staff with the skills, knowledge and resources that they need in order to facilitate and care for someone who is approaching end of life and these figures show that they are achieving that.”

In addition the team run the End of Life Champions forum in which so far 121 End of Life Champions have attended. The session provides a forum where champions can ask questions and receive professional updates from guest speakers.

Head of education Gail Wilson was delighted at the audit findings which demonstrated even those homes that have been registered with the Six Steps programme for the last four to five years are maintaining their quality markers for end of life care. She said, “We can be proud of our Six Steps care homes, to meet these quality markers in such challenging times shows real commitment to the programme and the residents they care for.”

The St Luke’s Six Steps + programme is a series of workshops developed by the education team, designed to provide care homes and agencies with a toolkit to provide quality end of life care that meets CQC end of life essential standards. The course also provides staff with an ongoing commitment as an End of Life Care Champion, enabling them to share knowledge and skills to peers and colleagues. Along with the Six Steps + programme our education team have been running free training sessions in End of Life Care, providing care home and domiciliary care agency staff with an overview of end of life care tools and care in the last days of life. The next training session is on Wednesday 13 September between 2pm and 4pm at Turnchapel. For more information visit the courses page.

Crisis Team

Crisis Team

It has been a year since the St Luke’s crisis team expanded their services out into East Cornwall and things are looking hopeful for the future of the pilot project.

The pilot initiative which was launched in August last year, saw us expand our care for terminally ill patients who need a 72 hour window of specialist help at home to stabilise symptoms, avoid any unnecessary admission to hospital or facilitate rapid discharge from hospital or our specialist unit.

The team has been working in close partnership with other community health and social care providers in East Cornwall to enhance end of life care services and offer solutions to crisis situations where a patient does not have care arrangements in place.

Crisis Team lead nurse, Sharon Smerdon said, “In the last year we have had a steady referral rate from East Cornwall and some very appropriate referrals to facilitate discharges from Derriford. Since June we have followed up discharges from the specialist unit and in August have started to follow up on those discharged from Derriford – this includes all patients known by the St Luke’s team in both the Western locality of NEW Devon and those in East Cornwall. We are still working with commissioners over funding for the continuation of the project and remain hopeful of this for the future.”

Since the expansion of our services last year our crisis team have also launched a Patient Centred Leadership project in East Cornwall, to encourage communities to come together in care by exploring new creative ways of building up a solid network of care for the patient. This involved developing a steering group, holding a two day programme for the nurses of the crisis team and three community nurses from Cornwall and developing processes and paperwork to assist with identifying patients and carer networks and enabling them to deliver end of life care themselves.

Angus Black

Angus Black

Singing, acting and fundraising – it all comes naturally to one of our junior fundraisers.

Unlike most eleven-year-olds, Angus Black from Gunnislake has spent his weekends busy fundraising for St Luke’s at our Open Gardens.

If you have attended one of our Open Gardens this year you may have spotted Angus lending a helping hand by helping his granny sell St Luke’s merchandise and plants and even entertaining garden visitors with his singing.

Angus was inspired to help out after following in the footsteps of his granny and one of our community fundraising ambassadors, Sue Crocker. Sue’s husband Richard spent his final days being cared for in our specialist unit 10 years ago.

Angus’ mum Annaliese Plowright said, “He has always been a compassionate young man, but he just gets so much enjoyment out of helping. He never knew Richard, so this is a way that he can feel connected to him and feel that he is doing something in his memory as well as for all the people who are currently using St Luke’s services. He has had a tour of the specialist unit and seen the work that St Luke’s does, so he knows exactly how the money he raises can help people.”

So far Angus’ impressive fundraising has raised £710 for patient care. Angus was thanked personally by St Luke’s CEO Steve Statham when he visited our specialist unit at Turnchapel last month.

His amazing dedication and support to St Luke’s over the Open Gardens season will come to an end in September as our season closes but Angus has said his fundraising will not stop then. However he will have to fit it in around his busy schedule, as he is also currently acting in the new series of ITV’s Doc Martin. But he says he would be delighted to continue to help raise as much as he can to help us to deliver our care to those in need.

St Luke’s community fundraiser Wayne Marshall said, “Angus has been such a star at our Open Gardens, sitting beside his granny and helping her to sell all our St Luke’s merchandise, as well as providing visitors with plenty of entertainment! It is fantastic that someone of his age has taken such a proactive role in helping St Luke’s. We hope that many more children will be inspired by Angus and want to fundraise for St Luke’s as well, whether they are a similar age or if someone in their family may have used our service before, like in Angus’ case it could become a way of connecting with loved ones lost. They could ultimately become a representative for St Luke’s in their school or local community and we would provide them with plenty of fundraising support along the way.”

St Luke’s Open Gardens are sponsored by McClure Solicitors.