Hospice Care Week 2017

Hospice Care Week is an annual week of activity to raise the profile of hospice care across the UK, taking place this year from Monday 9th to Sunday 15th October.

This year Halton Haven will be publishing stories from their patients and patients’ families to highlight the valuable, and often unknown or misunderstood, work that takes place within the Hospice.

Linda Miller has been visiting the Hospice once a week for the past few months following the death of her husband in January this year. Linda, 67 years old, met her husband Alexander aged 17. After dating for a short while they went their separate ways, and made lives with other people. Linda and Alexander’s marriages both came to an end and they found each other again, promptly getting married and starting their life together. Linda, originally from Blackpool, and Alexander, from Dagenham in London, settled into life together in Runcorn with their son and Alexander’s two daughters. Sadly in August 2016, Alexander was diagnosed with lung cancer.

His ten day stay in Warrington Hospital was followed by a return home but with regular visits to Chester for further treatment. Alexander soon became fed up with the constant trips along the M56 to fit in all his treatment, until the doctor mentioned Halton Haven Hospice. The Hospice, according to the doctor, could be an option to have all the treatment done under one roof. The back-and-forth journeys from Runcorn to Chester to Runcorn to Warrington could be done away with. So, after meeting Dr Averil Fountain, Medical Director at Halton Haven, Alexander started visiting the Hospice once a week. When Alexander’s condition began to worsen, Dr Fountain assured them he would have a bed on the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit when the time came. That time did come in late January and Alexander was admitted to the Hospice as an inpatient. He arrived on a Friday and passed away the following Tuesday.

It was during Alexander’s time at the Hospice that Linda met Jan Gray who heads up the Family Support team at the Hospice, offering practical and emotional support to Hospice patients and their family members whenever it is needed. Linda was dealing with an incredibly difficult situation with Alexander’s illness, but it was made worse by the fact that he had had his benefit payments stopped having been deemed well enough to work. Thankfully for Linda, Jan was on hand to provide practical help and guidance to rectify this. After arranging for a benefits assessor to visit Linda at home and restart Alexander’s payments, Jan also helped Linda arrange the funeral and gave her a list of departments to get in touch with to process the administrative side of Alexander’s death. Jan even arranged a meeting with a solicitor when Linda was having some other personal concerns, and came along to the meeting with her to help her through it. Linda cannot emphasise enough the importance of Jan’s support at this difficult time. “Jan is so helpful and kind. She’s so understanding and nothing was too much trouble for her." She said to me ‘If there’s anything you need, I’ll help’ and I was so grateful to hear those words.” It was after this practical help that Jan suggest Linda may benefit from some emotional support too, and she suggested counselling. Linda’s response of "I don't know but I'll give it a go" was one of the first steps in her grieving process. Linda now goes into the Haven once a week to see Maxine, one of Jan’s colleagues in Family Support. “I have found it useful. It’s helped tremendously,” Linda says. “The sessions with Maxine have made me feel better. It takes time but I am getting there.I just need to get rid of this rubbish in my head.” Jan and the whole Family Support team have been a great help to Linda. “She’s brilliant. An absolute star. I don’t think I would be where I am now without them. I talk and they listen, and it helps me find my own solutions. They’ve helped no end and pulled me through some black times.”

There is a common misconception about hospices across the UK with many people believing they are ‘just a place where you go to die.’ Whilst Halton Haven does provide end of life care for many patients, there is so much more that happens at the Hospice.

Throughout Hospice Care Week, Halton Haven will be publishing stories and news every day on their facebook and twitter pages in a bid to eradicate these misconceptions and shine a light on what Hospice Care really means.

For more information, you can visit https://www.haltonhaven.org.uk/, Facebook search Halton Haven Hospice, or twitter.com/haltonhaven

You can contact Chris on 01928 712 728 or chris.andrews@haltonhaven.co.uk.

 

 

 

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Halton & St Helens VCA is an infrastructure organisation that provides advice, information and development support services to voluntary, community, not-for-profit and faith organisations and volunteers in the Boroughs of St Helens and Halton.