We’ve already heard some great stories about Thames Hospice at SEC, but we wanted to share some with you, which is why we’ve got a special guest blog today from one of the team at the Hospice. Jacquie Batchford, Director of Patient and Family Services, has kindly written a piece about her experience of working at Thames Hospice.
I started working at Thames Hospice in 2000 as a Staff Nurse, then moved from Inpatient Unit Sister to Practice Educator and Head of Clinical Services, before taking on my current role as Director of Patient and Family Services.
My very first clinical job was in the NHS, caring for patients undergoing bone marrow transplants, and then I spent a year at the Royal Marsden qualifying in cancer care. I went on to spend eight years working at Mount Vernon Hospital on an acute oncology ward, and progressed to Senior Sister – managing a 27-bed ward. We gave curative and palliative treatments, but also cared for some patients at the end of their lives. I then became a Lecturer Practitioner across the acute trust and local university – responsible for the education strategy. I had found a love for palliative care but missed the patient contact, so took the decision to move organisations and that was how I found my way to hospice care.
I love working in a small organisation where I can still have patient contact and know the staff delivering the care. Within a week of starting at the Hospice, I understood the differences between a hospice and a hospital. There are different pressures in the NHS, but at the hospice I love the fact that staff are encouraged to spend time with patients and that families and loved ones are cared for too.
I have worked at the Hospice for 17 years and, although there have been many changes, there has been one consistent theme – that the person receiving our care is always the most important person.
I am amazed by the bravery of our patients and families in the most difficult of times. The patients all know they have an incurable condition, as do their families, and they face this in their own ways with individual care from us. The common theme is the bravery of facing saying goodbye to each other; I do not know if I would have the courage to face this as they do.
The staff make me proud every day. They connect with everyone who uses our services on a fundamental human level. They share laughter and fun with the patients and families – they help people to live the best they can and enjoy moments of joy and happiness amongst their sadness. The nurses, doctors and all patient-facing staff inspire me to do better in my job, to be the best I can be for them.
Importantly, our supporters and donors inspire me with the lengths they are willing to go to support us. Teams like SEC Recruitment, who dedicate their time to fundraising and awareness building in and outside of working hours, as well as so generously supporting us with donations.
This support is vital in helping us continue to deliver our inpatient, outpatient and community services – from respite for patients and carers, to pain and symptom control, therapy sessions and end of life-care. Looking after families after a bereavement is so important and I really like our Time to Remember and Light up a Life services, which allow families to come back to the Hospice, remember their loved ones and meet with staff again. These events create a special place for loved ones to take time out to really value their memories of the person who has died.
We aim to give families the best memories possible of a very difficult time and we are introducing new ways of doing this. This year, we will allow patients and/or their loved ones to record videos, make memory boxes or write letters to one another with the support of our staff.
Celebrating life and ensuring the people in our care have quality of life no matter their condition, is our vision. To help achieve this, we hold Hospice events throughout the year, including Mother’s Day Teas, screening Wimbledon and Christmas carols. We also help those in our care to achieve special wishes or celebrate milestones. We’ve organised weddings, a New Year party, celebrated Christmas in November and recently arranged a 60th Wedding Anniversary – we even welcomed a patient’s horse into the Hospice gardens, so they could say one last goodbye. We will do whatever possible to bring comfort to those facing a life-limiting illness. This also includes offering bespoke, individual care to children losing a parent, and counselling, social work and emotional and spiritual support for all of the people we see.
Every month, that is more than 700 people across the Hospice and in our community. At the moment, we only have 17 beds at the Hospice and every day, there are more than 10 people waiting for one of those beds. Therefore, we are privileged to have secured the option to purchase land to enable us to build a new 28-bed, purpose-built, hospice in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
We submitted planning permission in March and plan to build a facility which we know will be better for patients, but also help relieve the pressure on local hospitals. This will offer far greater facilities for our patients attending for the day or visiting us for a specific treatment. Included in the plans is a community hub, with therapy rooms, a beautiful space for patients and families to relax, a gym and a large bathroom with a top-of-the-range Jacuzzi bath for patients that cannot get into a bath at home.
As experts in the palliative and end-of-life care field, an important part of our work is also education and training. So we hope to build an education centre, with the space and equipment to increase training, not only for our own staff but for external staff from care homes, hospitals and other care facilities.
Achieving our dream means that we can see more patients in a better environment, but with the same extremely high quality care. We are so grateful for your support in helping us achieve this.