Pillar of the community: An insight into Garden House Hospice Care

PUBLISHED: 10:03 28 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:03 30 July 2018

Garden House Hospice Care provides a wide variety of support to patients at different stages of their care. Picture: Georgia Barrow

Garden House Hospice Care provides a wide variety of support to patients at different stages of their care. Picture: Georgia Barrow

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Garden House Hospice Care is a much-loved pillar in our area. Based in Letchworth, it cares for people with life-limiting illnesses across North Herts and Stevenage.

Director of patient services Jayne Dingemans looks after clinical services at the hospice. Picture: Georgia BarrowDirector of patient services Jayne Dingemans looks after clinical services at the hospice. Picture: Georgia Barrow

At the Comet, we often hear about people fundraising for the hospice which has helped them through the loss of a loved one, and cared for them through to the end of their life.

I spent the morning at the hospice to speak to just some of the people who provide both in and out-patient care that means so much to the people of North Herts.

Hospice chief executive Sue Plummer told me: “The hospice started about 27 years ago. A group of passionate people in the community decided they needed a hospice in North Hertfordshire so started the mammoth task of fundraising, and 27 years later here we are.

“I enjoy working at the hospice because its a real privilege to care for families using our services and to be around staff, volunteers and the people that we serve.”

Lyndsay Abbot is one of the many volunteers who give up their time for the hospice. Picture: Georgia BarrowLyndsay Abbot is one of the many volunteers who give up their time for the hospice. Picture: Georgia Barrow

Director of patient services Jayne Dingemans said: “The hospice services involve a 12-bed inpatient unit, a large community team, a 24/7 hospice at home service. As well as our continuing health care team of nurses, we have a family support team which provides both pre and post-bereavement counselling to adults and children.

“We have a social worker who sits in the family support team and a spiritual care co-ordinator who co-ordinates a team of volunteers who provide spiritual care to patients and families.

“We also have an education development department which is key in not only supporting our staff – especially clinical staff – but also in supporting other healthcare professionals and social care professionals working in the community to upskill them, to enable them to care for patients and families who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.”

Alongside the clinical services, the hospice also offers a day-service, which allows people to come into the hospice during the day to get support with managing their illnesses.

Macmillan Cancer Support rehabilitation and wellbeing manager Sarah Bradfield said: “The most rewarding thing is seeing people arrive and they’re often quite anxious about coming to the hospice and what lies ahead for them.

“Then they leave with a plan feeling reassured and supported and it’s lovely to see that change.

“All our patients have a life-limiting condition diagnosis. We see people with cancer, neurological conditions, respiratory conditions, heart failure, liver failure, conditions with frailty. Anything that we can help with, we will do so.

“In day services, we see a range of people with a range of conditions. We work with them to rehabilitation model, so we will support them to live as fully as possible every day of their lives, and we have occupational therapists, physio therapists, complementary therapists and nurses to support people to do this.

“We also refer to our family support service which helps families and carers deal with the road ahead.

“Day services are important to people because we ask them ‘what’s important to you?’ and we find out what their priorities are and they attend different sessions to meet their needs.”

Donations and fundraising are just as important as ever, as Jayne discusses the changes facing the hospice.

“The hospice services are changing and have changed quite radically over the last few years,” she said.

“Although the 12 beds in the inpatient unit are still a really important part of what we do, many people want to remain at home for as long as possible and that has meant that we’ve needed to develop our community services to take the hospice philosophy out into the community and care for patients in their own home.

“The demand on services is ever-growing and we have a changing population. We have an older population, which brings with it the challenges of caring for the frail and caring for those who are living with co-morbidities – more than one condition at one time. We have a population which is now surviving after a cancer diagnosis and treatment, who perhaps wouldn’t have before, and they’re living with a chronic disease for many years after.

“Children who were traditionally cared for in children’s hospices are now living well into adult life, and we’re having to focus on the transition of children’s hospices to adult.”

For more information about the hospice, go to ghhospicecare.org.uk.

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