A COMMITTED team of executives and experts at Halton Haven Hospice have been making life-changing decisions to provide exemplary palliative care to people with life-limiting illnesses in the region.
The Widnes-based hospice has helped thousands of patients and their families during the last 26 years but since a new executive team took charge three years ago the centre has been rebuilt inside and out and from the ground up to create service leading standards.
Chairwoman Carole Gibbard said: “The public perception of the hospice is what they see in the press, fund raising and cheque presentations or an event, they don’t really know fully what we do.
“We are a specialised unit offering specialised care for people with life-limiting illnesses. Care which can not be provided anywhere else in the community or in hospitals.
“We have got Macmillan cancer nurses, district nurses, and lots of Primary Care Trust specialised services who we interact with, that’s what we wanted.”
The hospice currently offers 15 in-patient beds and 60 places a week in its day hospice and has more than 80 full time staff and 130 volunteers.
“We’ve seen the greatest change since 2006 with lots of major developments,” added Carole.
“The attitude that has changed, it’s not we can’t, it’s how can we do it? It’s been a fundamental shift in our thinking and we need to be in that mind set all the time.
“We’re never going to be pleased with where we are, that’s when complacency sets in.
“We brought in a strategic plan, the hospice had never had a plan before, but if you want to go on a journey, you need to know where you are going, how you are going to get there and how much it’s going to cost?
“Team work is instrumental. The staff need know what their role is in achieving the hospice’s objectives and what they can do to raise standards. It was another huge shift for us.”
Director of Clinical Services Linda Smout added: “We wanted to progress in a number of key areas, one was improving the team and widening their skills.
“We made key appointments, we have our own community therapists and physiotherapists, and occupational health officers.
“We would like a more definitive family support service for hospice patients to help with financial concerns, help with wills, it’s a growing service and we are looking to recruit people in to that.
“I spent 16 years at the Marie Curie Cancer Hospice which gave me a broad understanding.
“It was really useful for when I came here, it’s informed me on where we should be going.
“That hospice has grown, the patient is only a small part of it. For us the patient has got to be absolutely central, they day we forget that we might as well give up.”
With less than 50% of the hospice’s costs funded by the PCT the team has worked hard to maximise its income stream, expanding and diversifying its charity shops.
“If we relied on the PCT funding alone we couldn’t operate, we would have to close,” said Carole.
“The fundraising is absolutely vital and people have been very generous.”
With large charity shops in Widnes, Runcorn and Frodsham, as well as a specific furniture unit providing recycled white goods, the team have more than quadrupled their income stream.
Director of Corporate Services Shaun Pollard added: “Three years ago we had three shops, now there’s five, including the furniture store.
“It was a risk but we knew how to create the money and the risk of not doing was greater.”
Plans are in place to take the hospice even further forward during 2010,including a full time hospice funded consultant, and a wider range of services.
“People think hospices are full of people crying and people dieing,” said Carole.
“There are sad times when we lose people but it’s a wonderful place to be, I have never been in such a happy place with so much laughter. It’s one of the best things that’s happened to me in my life.
“We can’t add years on to a life but we can add life to the years, months and weeks.”