HospiceCare,established in 1995, is the main provider of palliative care in North Northumberland, delivering care and support to adults, their families and carers, who have a life limiting illness such as Cancer, Heart Failure, Lung Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinsons Disease. People can access care and support at any stage of their illness, not just at the very end of their life.
HospiceCare has a dedicated team of Nurses and Health Care Assistants who have the necessary skills and knowledge to care and support patients, carers and families in their own home, working in partnership with other health and social care providers. The timing of care and support delivered is tailored around the needs of the patient and family or carer.
Bereavement is something which we will all experience at some time in our lives and we all react to it in different ways. An individual’s loss is unique to them and how we cope as individuals often varies. However, many people go through a range of common reactions and emotions when someone they are close to dies.
Our Dementia and End of Life Care Project in North Northumberland Care Homes
By 2021 the number of people living with dementia will rise to over a million and they are more likely to die in a Care Home (Help the Hospices 2013). This is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society report (2103) suggesting that 80% of people living in Care Homes have dementia.
Dementia is a terminal illness as there is no cure and people with dementia and their families face the challenge of living with this progressive illness for many years.
So, armoured with this information and some understanding of the challenges faced by carers and families when caring for someone with dementia at the end of their life is what led HospiceCare in developing a project about dementia and end of life care to care staff in Care Homes across North Northumberland. The aim being, to not only support and raise awareness of the Care Home staff, but to help make a difference in the quality of care delivery and support to people with dementia and their families at the end of their life.
In 2016 the project was successfully funded by two charitable Trusts, Henfrey Charitable Trust and the Garfield
Weston Foundation and their generosity of funding meant that the project was extended from eighteen months to two years. Once funding was in place the Hospice employed two Mental Health nurses into the Hospice team for two days a week so that the knowledge and experience of dementia and end of life care could be fused together.
There are 20 Care Homes across North Northumberland who will all be approached over the next two years to engage with the Hospice, with an opportunity to develop partnership working as well as participate in the project. Earlier this year 5 Care Homes were contacted and currently 4 Care Homes across Alnwick, Amble and Berwick are participating in the project’s seven session programme which addresses topics such as dementia, end of life, communication, comfort care, families, last days of life and bereavement.
We are currently 4 months into delivering the programme and the care homes are welcoming and showing a commitment to the programme by most of their care staff attending each of the sessions which are well received with feedback varying from good to excellent. So whilst the project is still in its infancy its reception from Care Homes and the relationships which are developing with the
Hospice is positive and already making a difference in some way.
Once the programme has finished, relationships with the Care Home will continue with the Hospice as each Care Home will have identified one or two Hospice Link Carers to continue developing relationships with on-going access to support and information when caring for someone with dementia and their family at end of life.
Heatherdale Care Home, Broomhill (staff pictured below)
Alison Moore is the Care Manager at Heatherdale Care Home, Broomhill Alnwick. She welcomed the opportunity to have Sue and Betty deliver Dementia/End of Life care training to her staff when approached by HospiceCare earlier this year.
Alison said “We all appreciate here that Dementia is not a ‘one size fits all’ condition. It is about constantly having to adapt your care, every day is different. We have all benefited by having HospiceCare in to talk about death and dying. It has enabled us to have a different approach with our families and to have a more open conversation about end of life care.
All our staff, including our domestic staff, carers, managers and team leaders, have found it a positive and rewarding experience having this additional training. It is also very comforting to know that HospiceCare will still be supporting us around dementia and end of life care now and in the future. We will all miss Sue and Betty coming into the home.
We have always been really good at providing end of life care, but the training has reassured us that we are doing the right things. I do hope that the other care homes in North Northumberland take up this wonderful opportunity from HospiceCare.” Alison Moore.
Various complementary therapies, including massage, hypnotherapy, reflexology, acupuncture, reiki, Indian head massage and aromatherapy are available for all day therapy patients and carers.
You can either have your complementary therapy at the hospice Drop-in Clinics, or at home during the week. All the therapies are free of charge and you don't need a GP referral.
"The icing on the cake at the Hospice was the therapies on offer, from foot massages and yoga to nail painting. From the first visit it was my husband Dave who was prompting me each week to make sure I had the morning off work to go with him- his weekly trips became a highlight and something which he looked forward to immensely. For me they were equally welcoming.” Connie
When someone is diagnosed with a life limiting illness it affects not only the person with the illness but their husband or wife, partner and families. Lives are turned upside down as relationships change between loved ones and family members who soon find themselves in the caring role. The realisation that life will never be the same as it was can be difficult to come to terms with, particularly as caring can be bewildering, confusing, isolating and demanding.
HospiceCare is committed to providing care and support to carers as well as the person with the illness as carers’ own needs can often be suppressed when all of their attention and effort is placed on the person they are caring for. As well as physical tiredness, carers’ stress levels may be high affecting their own health and well being.
Fear, sadness, shock, anger, loss and anxiety are some of the normal emotions carers may experience which is why HospiceCare places equal value and importance on helping carers’ general well being.
HospiceCare offers carers physical, social and emotional support in several ways. Respite at home can be offered and is essential in relieving the carer from their caring role even if only for a few hours. Alternatively, the person they are caring for can come to the Therapeutic Drop-In at the Hospice allowing the carer some time for themselves. Carers are also offered complementary therapies to aid relaxation and boost their general well being as well as having an opportunity to access a ‘listening ear’ to share and express their fears and concerns.The support is available for as long as the carer needs it and there is no need to wait for a professional to make the referral.
If you would like support or more information please call and speak to one of the clinical team on: 01665 606515.
HospiceCare holds weekly Drop-ins at Alnwick and Berwick
The Hospice buildings are like a home-from-home where people gather for their chats and coffee, we have comfy seats and pleasing décor. The kettle is always on; there is an abundance of cake and biscuits and an entertaining wealth of conversation!
If someone is needing quiet time and one to one support there is always a member of the clinical team and trained nurse available to talk to in a quieter area in the building. Some people prefer to have a specific appointment to have one to one counselling support to discuss any fears, worries and concerns or you can just ask the nurse when you ‘drop-in.
Many people think that they need to feel ‘well’ to come to the ‘drop-in’, but often people will feel better once they have been! This may be because spending time with others offers a distraction from thoughts and feelings or speaking to one of the clinical team about any particular symptoms you may be having can be addressed as the trained nurse will contact your GP or other professional involved in your care, with your consent, as necessary.
The therapeutic drop-ins are for patients, carers and families so everyone who attends does so for their own needs and reasons. Everyone is treated as a unique individual and there is a mutual acceptance and understanding that no-one needs to say anything they don’t wish to say, but what is said is listened to with respect and consideration.
Trained and experienced complementary therapists offer their time freely as volunteers and provide a range of therapeutic complementary therapies such as reflexology, massage and reiki. You may be offered a treatment by the therapist when you attend the drop-in or alternatively book an appointment. These treatments are also available to carers and family members.
When I come to the Hospice I feel normal because I can get away from all of the equipment which surrounds me at home and no-one keeps asking all of the time ‘how are you?’ It’s like visiting family and having a good natter!
People can attend the drop-ins for as long or as little as they wish. There are no time limits or a need to attend regularly as people can attend the drop-ins for support when they feel they need it. However, we do get to know some people and their families for many years because once the door is open it never closes and as someone’s condition changes and deteriorates we take the Hospice into their home to continue providing the care and support needed.
The therapeutic drop-ins are also for those people and their families living with other illnesses, it is not all about cancer! People can attend who have heart failure, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and chronic breathing difficulties. People can be referred to the therapeutic drop-in by a District Nurse, GP, Macmillan Nurse or Social Services. Alternatively ring us on (01665) 606515 or ‘DROP-IN!’
Alnwick Therapeutic Drop-In is on Wednesday mornings, 10am-1pm.
Berwick Therapeutic Drop-In is on Monday mornings, 10am-1pm.