“A hospice is not about high-tech medical stuff, it’s about sitting alongside a person and being privileged to be there for them, to give them the help and support they might need.”
The heart-felt, inspirational words of Julie Huttley, matron and clinical director at Bispham’s Trinity Hospice.
She added: “A hospice is about a whole team supporting the patient, and that includes every single person within the organisations whether it’s a house-keeper, a member of the catering team or a volunteer.
“Without that team we would not have the high reputation we have and we would not be able to give the exceptional care we do.
“The first impression of whoever speaks to you when you first come through the door, often a volunteer, stays with you, and that’s vital.”
Yet hospices like Trinity face a constant battle against a stigma that they are sad places where people only go to die.
In fact Trinity, on Low Moor Road, Bispham, is, staff say, a place full of joy, where people with terminal conditions are given the pain relief they need which might lead to them living longer than doctors expected.
“Hospice I suppose for some people is a very frightening word,” says Julie.
“And it often takes us to be involved before we can dismiss those myths.
“It’s not all dismal and dreary, it a very happy place to work with staff that are passionate about giving holistic goodness and care to patients and to support them and their families. The hospice itself provides a lot more services than what happens in this building, supporting patients both inside Trinity and in the community.
And we have counselling support for families in the Linden Centre to help people come to terms with bereavement and living with serious illness. My philosophy is that we are all going to die, we’re not able to change that.
“But we can make a difference in how a person gets to that part of their lives.
“If we can support a person and give them a good death, we have done our jobs to the best of our ability.”
Julie’s comments epitomise the spirit of those at Trinity Hospice and its linked Brian House children’s hospice, which are preparing for a massive refurbishment with the help of The Gazette’s Hospice Heroes appeal.
At Trinity, the main element of the work involves creating four new single rooms with en-suite facilities, as well as replacing warped and draughty windows and corridors easier to navigate.
Plans also include making Brian House brighter, safer and more appropriate for the changing needs of children visiting with challenging behaviour.
The windows will be replaced, a leaking roof fixed and the bedrooms brought up to date. It is a major task and will cost around £500,000 to bring the hospices up to modern standards. Bosses were given a major boost with a £280,000 grant by the Department of Health, but there is still a shortfall of £200,000.
That’s where our Hospice Heroes appeal comes in – and we are looking for our army of readers to do something heroic for our local hospice.
It could be a sponsored walk, run, cake bake, non-uniform day at school or work, or anything which can help us reach our target.
The work will be done while the hospice remains open.
Julie said: “The work being done on the building will affect us here, and there will have to be some bed closures.
“But we’re going to support the team in the community so we can help people where they live for longer and refer people to the day unit or other services.”
She added the work was important to everyone involved at both Trinity and Brian House.
“Over time, patients and their families have told us of their experiences and what, if there was money available, we could do to make it better for them,” she said.
“Certainly more single rooms and more privacy and dignity, and they would like more areas where they can sit and talk to have sensitive conversations.
“ It’s a very exciting time to be at Trinity as this work has been a long time coming.
“We have involved a lot of people – patients and their family as well as staff and volunteers – in our plans which are now out to tender to create an enhanced environment for them all to be in.
“It’s really important that we have everybody working along with us to have their support and their ideas incorporated into the scheme.”