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“Thank you for helping people to have the end of life care they deserve”

Sam Farr

Following one of St Catherine’s Hospice busiest ever summers, during Hospice Care Week, Sam Farr, Ward Matron at St Catherine’s, wanted to tell you what your support means. And why your continued support is so vital.

 “As the new Ward Matron at St Catherine’s, I’d like to say a really big thank you for all the support you’ve given our hospice over the summer. It’s been lovely to see so many of you enjoying our varied events. And in turn allowing my team and I to provide expert care and support to local people facing death and bereavement.

Since joining the hospice I’ve been amazed. As an experienced nurse I’ve spent years caring for adults and children in different settings, always doing all I could to ease their suffering. But here at St Catherine’s I’ve seen care that goes beyond anything I’ve seen before. The kind of dedicated care everyone deserves at the end of their life.

 So it breaks my heart that we can’t always provide this care at the time it’s needed most.

 I wanted to tell you about Joan* who was recently on our ward. Joan was very ill when she came to us but she loved the tranquil feeling of our hospice and told us she felt safe here. And no matter how ill Joan felt, the fact that our nurses remembered which cake she liked from the afternoon tea trolley, and that she took her tea with two sugars always brightened her day. When you’re unwell, little things like this really make a difference, so remembering them is as important to us as remembering what medication someone needs.

When we spoke to Joan about her end of life wishes she told us she’d like to die at the hospice when the time came.In her final moments she wanted to be cared for by nurses who knew her and the things that mattered to her – things that made her feel peaceful and at ease. She also wanted to know that her family would be supported following her death. That in their sadness they wouldn’t be rushed in saying goodbye to her, and that they’d be surrounded by the love and compassion of familiar nurses.

We cared deeply about Joan’s wishes.

One day our team realised Joan needed to go to hospital for some specialist treatment that we couldn’t provide here. We told her not to worry, and that we’d have a slice of her favourite cake and a cup of tea with two sugars waiting when she came back.

It breaks my heart to say that we never got chance to do that.

Because when Joan was ready to return we weren’t able to take her in. Her bed had been filled and there was no other space. Shortly after, Joan died. In an unfamiliar hospital ward. There are no words to express how terrible I feel that we couldn’t welcome Joan back to St Catherine’s, and be here for her at the end of her life.

But what I can do is ask for your help. I can ask you to continue to support St Catherine’s, at events and through fundraising of your own, by volunteering, and through remembering that we’re here to care for people in your community – your family, friends and neighbours. By supporting us, you can make a difference to them when it’s needed most. And make sure that we don’t have to turn other people and families away in future.

I thought I had a good idea of what a hospice did when I arrived here, but every day I’m still surprised. From the smell of freshly brewed coffee drifting from our coffee shop, to the sound of the tinkling waterfall in our garden, everything feels like home. And thanks to our nurses’ loving and personalised care, local people come to realise that death doesn’t have to be traumatic. It can be gentle and surrounded by support. That’s what we wanted to give to Joan, and what your continued support can give someone else in your community today.

Our care is only possible thanks to people like you. It’s thanks to you that I’m able to do a job I love and that our community needs. Thank you for your support and for helping people to have the end of life care they deserve.”

 *Joan is a false name

 To make a donation to St Catherine’s or to find out more about the hospice’s work, please visit: www.stch.org.uk/donate

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