Inspiring projects are winners at Hospice UK 2019 awards

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.
Photo by Jonathan Goldberg

A ground-breaking comedy night held in a hospital during Dying Matters Week to raise awareness about end of life care and a project that helped widen participation in gardening at a hospice with a wheelchair-accessible polytunnel were among the winners of the Hospice UK awards last night.

Innovation in Dying Matters Award:  Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

Staff at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust decided to try something a bit different for Dying Matters Week by arranging a comedy night in a hospital for employees and family from the trust and two local hospices. It is believed to be the first event of its kind held in an acute setting.

The event showcased three high-profile comedians: Paul Kerensa (writer on shows such as Miranda and Not Going Out); Jim Tavare (who played the innkeeper in Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban)  and Mitch Benn (who regularly appears on Radio 4).

During the event the comedians shared their experiences and reflections on near-death, funerals and dying and also highlighted the need to talk about death and people’s wishes at the end of life, rather than ignoring these. It proved to be a sell-out success, and received positive feedback for its amusing and thought-provoking content.

During the show’s interval there was a stand featuring Dying Matters materials where many people shared their experiences of the end of life care received by their families.

The profits raised by the event have helped fund end-of-life care initiatives across the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

The Hospice UK judging panel praised the event as “a great idea delivered well, it stood out from a set of creative, exciting entries” and which produced a lot of laughter and helped start some key conversations about end of life care.

Innovation in Care Award: Lindsey Lodge Hospice

In keeping with its rehabilitative approach to hospice care, last year Lindsey Lodge Hospice began transforming its day care service into a wellbeing centre. This included supporting people with life-limiting conditions and their families to enjoy the benefits of gardening.

The hospice successfully applied for a grant to fund its first polytunnel – which provides a microclimate of higher temperatures and humidity enabling fruit and vegetables to be grown, even out of season.

A patient had earlier introduced the use of hydroponics – a method of growing plants without soil and using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. It means there is no need for labour-intensive activities like watering or digging, which can be too physically demanding for people with life-limiting conditions.

The polytunnel was designed to be accessible for everyone, including those who use a wheelchair or are unable to stand for long periods of time, enabling a range of patients and their families to cultivate plants and vegetables through conventional gardening and also using the hydroponics system.

The polytunnel has brought patients together, as well as sparking interest with families, staff and volunteers. Families visiting patients can enjoy some alternative ‘respite’ time. Also, the hospice has held bereavement support sessions inside the polytunnel, which has helped generate more open and honest discussions among people receiving this vital support.

The Hospice UK judging panel described the project as ‘a true innovation’ led by people with lived experience of life-limiting conditions, and which was relevant to everyone receiving hospice and end of life care as well as their families.

The full list of award winners is as follows:

  • Innovation in Care Award: Lindsey Lodge Hospice
  • Innovation in Income Generation Award: Chestnut Tree House
  • Innovation in Tackling Inequalities Award: Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice
  • Innovation in Partnership Working Award: St Mary’s Hospice (Ulverston)
  • Innovation in Dying Matters Award: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • Volunteer of the Year 2019 Award: Pat Ross, Highland Hospice
  • Volunteer Gardener of the Year 2019 Award: Martin Winn, St Cuthbert’s Hospice.
  • Dementia Care at Home Award: St Giles Hospice
  • Towergate Hospice Team of the Year: Wigan and Leigh Hospice
  • Michael Howard Award: Arthur Rank Hospice

Commenting on the awards, Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:

“There were some terrific entries for our awards this year, which featured an impressive array of inspirational individuals and innovative projects. Whether helping to increase public awareness about end of life care, tackling inequalities in provision or trying new approaches to reach more people, each one has made a massive difference to care for people with life-limiting conditions and their families.

“As ever we are immensely grateful to the National Garden Scheme for its longstanding support for our awards and, as our largest funder, for many other aspects of Hospice UK’s work.”

George Plumptre, CEO National Garden Scheme added:

“Today hospices operate in an increasingly challenging landscape, with fundraising ever harder and demand ever growing. The National Garden Scheme is proud of its long support for Hospice UK and the wider hospice movement. These annual awards remind us all of the amazing work done in so many ways in hospices and we are delighted to continue our support for them.”

For more information about all the award winners visit the Hospice UK website

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