Hospice Care Week is a fantastic chance to discuss and celebrate the incredible palliative care services that this sector provides, year-round. For us, it’s a privilege to work with hospices throughout the UK and Ireland, with so many people who are committed and passionate about what they do.
This year’s theme is #hospicecareis – but let’s start with what #hospicecareisNOT. We often find there’s a taboo around the word ‘hospice’. For many it conjures up images of a dark, sad and scary place. But, we know from our experience that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hospices and hospice care isn’t all about death and dying – it’s about life and living it with choice right up until the end. In fact, hospice care is something that we should ALL be talking about. Chances are, most of us will need to call on hospice care services at some point in our lives.
Hospice nurses and other care staff really are experts in their field, but often the most important thing they enable is much simpler. They allow a husband to go back to being a husband – instead of a carer. They enable a wife to be a wife again; just to be there in their loved one’s last moments. And so for us, at Pebblebeach, hospice care is about the provision of support, of reassurance – and of time; being able to enjoy the good moments and creating lasting memories in them.
So, in the spirit of #hospicecareis, we asked a few of our clients what ‘hospice care’ means to them. David Pond, Individual Giving & Donor Care Manager at Keech Hospice Care, replied, ‘For me, hospice care is about seeing someone as an individual and not their illness. It’s also recognising that a good death matters and we only get one chance to get it right’.
For Lianna Bell, Database Co-ordinator at St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield, ‘Hospice care is bringing light into dark times and valuing every minute when the minutes are numbered. It means making sure that people keep on Living (with a capital L) and focusing on quality and experience right up to the very end. It’s total care of mind, body and soul; personal and dignified, compassionate and sad, but never sombre’.
Neil Harman, Director of Fundraising at Thames Hospice, told us ‘A hospice is a happy place where sad things happen. I find it very humbling to be part of an organisation that is so dedicated in providing the care it does’.
And, of course, hospice care would not be possible without its wonderful and dedicated supporters. While many hospices receive some funding from the NHS, most rely primarily on donations in order to provide their services. If they need to recruit a vital extra member of staff, open more beds on IPU or grow community services, then the hospice must fundraise for it. That’s where donors come in; so this Hospice Care Week we want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of the people who give their money and time in order to make such incredible care possible.
In the words of our own Managing Director, Ash Gilbert, ‘The most moving stories of hospice care are never about the ‘medical’ – that’s just something that happens in the background that then allows moments of incredible humanity to take place. Hospices are the ultimate expression of the value of life in a day, an hour, a moment; all are precious and hospices give us the chance to understand this’.