Hospice care can last for months or even years depending on the diagnosis but when it comes down to those final weeks, our Hospice at Home Team is on hand to provide vital support not just for the patient, but also their loved ones.
The team of dedicated Palliative Care Sisters, Nurses and Healthcare Assistants offer up to three home visits per day to patients in their own homes. They support them with personal care and symptom management, psychological and emotional support and bridging visits for people waiting for other packages of care.
Each day starts with a morning briefing where the team will discuss each patient’s condition and the bespoke support they need before their visits begin.
Amanda Harvey, Healthcare Assistant, says: “No two days are the same. You never know what you’re going to walk into and things can change so quickly.
“The most rewarding thing about this job for me is knowing that I have done everything I can for that person to make them comfortable and pain-free.”
The Sisters in the Hospice at Home Team also support with urgent response calls for procedures such as catheterisations and blood tests to avoid unwanted hospital admissions.
Working alongside other healthcare providers, such as district nurses and Birmingham’s Early Intervention Community Team (EICT) and the hospice’s wider Multi-Disciplinary Team, each member of the Hospice at Home Team gives their all to ensuring their patients are cared for and comfortable.
The team also offer support to the patients’ family and friends through respite visits, giving them a chance to go out or take some time for themselves knowing that their loved one is being cared for.
They also listen to a patient’s specific wishes for their final moments. Recently, one patient said he wanted to be able to see the garden, so the team made sure his bed was looking out over it for him and made space for his wife’s bed next to it so they could be together when he died.
Hospice care is about more than death, Jess Horabin, Community Palliative Sister, explains: “It’s about living well with your illness and making the most of the time that is left. The people we see don’t want it to be all doom and gloom, so we try to make them laugh and get to know them as people – things they enjoy such as music, any hobbies and their families and former jobs.
“Sometimes we give our patients a ‘pamper package’ where we can massage them, apply any creams and wash their hair, we don’t rush with the patients. We do this job because we love it and we love caring for people, it’s so rewarding.”
Although it’s fulfilling, it can also be incredibly emotionally demanding for the team. And the support doesn’t stop when that person dies, the team try to attend their funeral and pay their respects, as well as offering bereavement visits to their loved ones who are grieving.
Kelly-Marie Lott, Community Palliative Sister, adds: “The rapport you build with people is priceless. But it can be hard when you have spent months building up such a strong relationship with someone to see them die.
“Sometimes it really hits us hard, you can go home and no one understands what you’ve been through that day. I think that’s why we’re all so close as a team because we do understand what each of us is going through. Sometimes we do have a bit of a cry together, but we also have a laugh too and that keeps us going through the tough times.
“I work in such a fantastic team, they all give 100% to everything they do for patients and their loved ones.
“You get one chance to get it right, so we have to do our best every day.”