St Christopher’s Hospice in south London is pioneering a new home-based rehabilitation service where volunteers work with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to support patients.
Barry is one of the Living Well at Home project’s 13 volunteers. He began volunteering at St Christopher’s after a close friend passed away under the care of the hospice. After reflecting on the significance of the home support his friend received, he joined the Living Well at Home team following a one day training course provided by St Christopher’s rehabilitation team. The next step for Barry was to be paired with a patient, Gladys, who required home support.
Gladys had been struggling with her mobility and needed assistance at home to re-establish control over her day to day life, something that had become increasingly difficult as she got older. Barry made weekly visits and guided Gladys through a series of exercises to increase her strength and capacity for movement, as well as encouraging her and growing a relationship of trust, respect and care.
“I did not want to just exist”, she said. The Living Well at Home service ensures that Gladys, with the support of Barry, has the opportunity to thrive.
Following an initial grant of £40,000 from St James’s Place Foundation through Hospice UK, the project ran an 18 month pilot programme. In its first year they recruited 26 volunteers and assessed 123 referrals, 56 of whom were matched with volunteers for rehabilitation programmes. A further 31 received some form of rehabilitation intervention from the team.
Over the course of the pilot year the hospice saw an improvement in patient well-being, mobility and health-related quality of life. They are intending to write up their findings for a paper in partnership with the Cicely Saunders Institute.
To watch the short film the hospice has produced telling the story of Barry and Gladys visit St Christopher’s