In writing previously about the Hospice, I have said just how creative some of the Day Hospice folks are when it comes to producing cards and gifts and knitting. One really lovely piece of knitted work which impressed me enormously was a bridal couple, I thought that was absolutely fabulous.
Some people are really good in tackling the quizzes which usually appear each week, and others have quite wicked senses of humour. All of these things help to make our day enjoyable and rewarding.
Other folk enjoy the opportunity to engage in a little gardening, and many of us are able to bring along fascinating memorabilia and memories of our earlier lives.
In my case, I am not really very creative when it comes to making things but I have been able to help the work of the Hospice in other ways. I have commented previously about my flute playing and how that seems to bring pleasure to people. I have recorded a CD with a couple of friends which has provided a way of raising money for our church (St Andrew’s in Shifnal) and for the Hospice. Like so many others I donate regularly to the Hospice and really love to think that by Gift Aiding my donation it is adding more to my contributions. My previous work and personal experience has allowed me to help in other ways.
One of these was to contribute to a staff seminar on palliative care, where I was able to describe my experiences as a carer for my wife and as a cancer sufferer myself. It was Marilyn, the consultant psychologist, who asked me to become involved with that. Our experience of working together subsequently resulted in me working alongside her in facilitating a series of patient focus groups for three of the Day Hospice groups at Telford.
The aim of the focus group was to obtain feedback from patients about their views and experience of Severn Hospice and the Day Hospice service, and to seek suggestions for possible changes and improvements. The end product was a report which we took firstly to the Hospice senior management team and then to the Hospice Board of Trustees. In both cases, it was very well received: not surprising, really, given the overwhelming appreciation by patients of the fabulous work of the Day Hospice.
Some of the recommendations are already being implemented. Some Day Hospice patients expressed a desire to meet people attending on other days, and one suggestion was to see if there would be support for a choir on a Wednesday (the only week day when there is no day unit). The first meeting took place in September as I have reported in ‘Singing from the same sheet’ and it should be an ongoing activity.
Having taken part in this way, I have now become involved outside the Hospice with a couple of working parties on End of Life Care which were part of care commissioning, at present under the auspices of Shropshire Primary Care Trust. I really enjoyed participating in these, partly because I have some experiences which are relevant and partly because they provided some opportunity to boost the importance of the work done by the Hospice. It is not that folks don’t know what the Hospice achieves but I think it is good for a patient to demonstrate and reinforce just how valuable the role of the Hospice is.
I was then asked if I could start writing about some of my experiences for the Hospice’s website. I thought that sounded like a useful thing to do but I was a little uncertain as to how to tackle it and wondered just what I might write about. I have managed to produce a few pieces so far, but it may soon be time for me to have a break and let someone else have a go.
Maybe not yet, as one thing seems to lead to another. When Sarah, the manager of the Severn Hospice shop in Shifnal which opened in July, read some of my offerings on the Hospice website she thought it would be a good idea to invite me along to the opening, since I am a Shifnal resident benefitting from the Hospice services. So I duly became an honoured guest and assisted the Mayor in opening the shop. It was more publicity for the Hospice with a good picture in the Shropshire Star. It was a little unfortunate that the piece in the paper alongside me in the photograph was headlined “Psycho killer of student gets life”! I recently called in to the shop and had a word with Sarah. She is absolutely thrilled with the warm welcome from the people of Shifnal and with the generous donations of items for sale. So things are going well. Of course, although there has been a great response to the call for volunteers, there can never be too many! Should you be interested, just ring 01743 272082 for a chat.
Like the others attending the Day Hospice, it is really rewarding to be able to help whilst I can and hopefully I shall be able to continue to do so for quite a while. It is an important way for me to give just a little back as a means of saying ‘thank you’ for all the love and support which I receive.