A 49-year-old District Nurse from Gloucestershire brought in the New Year with a ‘Big Chop’ – shaving off all her hair to raise vital funds for a charity which provides end-of-life care to local families in their homes.
Elaine Pratten, a mum of two from Cheltenham and a District Nurse Team Lead for Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, says the pandemic has highlighted more than ever the vital care given by Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice helping to keep patients safe at home.
“The pandemic has resulted in more tension on our healthcare service than ever before,” Elaine shares. “The pressure on our hospitals and on district and community nurses is incredible, and staff have been dealing with so much.
“As a District Nurse in Cheltenham I see every day how vital Sue Ryder’s services are. From palliative support via their virtual day hospice, to expert medical and nursing care at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice inpatient unit to their amazing Hospice at Home team who ensure people are safe and supported in their preferred place of care.
“I wanted to do something to raise funds for Sue Ryder’s Hospice at Home team as their service is vital to provide the personal care and support patients and families need, in addition to nursing care.
“Community nursing teams throughout Gloucestershire work tirelessly to support people to stay at home at the end of life, and avoid unnecessary hospital admission. We are unable to do this alone and rely on the services provided by Sue Ryder.”
“When we know that a patient is going to be supported by the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice at Home team there is just a huge sense of relief as we know that the family will be well looked after. We know that the patient will be kept safe at home and that we can help families keep going.”
“The knowledge, expertise and the staff working at Sue Ryder are just incredible.”
Elaine shares the pandemic is also responsible for her idea to shave off her hair.
“Like many people I grew my hair during lockdown. Whilst contemplating a restyle I’ve decided to go the distance and Brave the Shave!
“I have always had short hair, but it grew during our various lockdowns over the pandemic and it became the longest it had been for a while. With 2022 ahead of us I was thinking about having a change and having a short pixie cut but I wanted to go one further and raise money for Sue Ryder. I even delayed my hair cut until the winter so I could cover it by wearing a hat!”
Elaine shaved her head on New Year’s Eve, with the help of her children aged 11 and eight.
“I worked on New Year’s Eve but the kids were really keen to be involved, so I decided to shave my head at work in the car park. The kids were really excited – my husband is bald so they have all been laughing saying that mum and dad will be matching. Both children were keen to be hands on with the charity challenge and shave off my hair for me!”
By braving the shave Elaine set out to raise £250, but after generous support is hoping she can raise even more.
“At first I hoped to raise £250 but we had already hit this by mid-December so I am looking to increase my fundraising target to £500. It is the first time I have ever done anything like this for charity, so I am really grateful to friends, family and supporters for donating.”
“I would also like to thank all the community services, district nurses and community staff and Sue Ryder services who are doing so much right now to help keep people at home. I know everyone is tired but keep going – the support you give is vital and really making such a difference to so many people.”
Elise Hoadley, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice Service Director said: “Palliative care for patients with life-limiting conditions and those who are dying in Gloucestershire is delivered by a wide range of health and social care professionals, across many settings and partner providers in Gloucestershire.
“Working together, we do all we can to make sure people are cared for, kept safe and comfortable and supported to die in the place of their choice. We’re truly humbled that Elaine has chosen to shave her head to help raise vital funds so our charity can continue to play our part in delivering palliative care to people in Gloucestershire.”
To donate to Elaine’s ‘Brave the Shave’ challenge visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Elaine-Pratten
For more information on Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice visit www.sueryder.org/leckhampton
About Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice:
Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice is the only palliative care inpatient unit in Gloucestershire and provides expert palliative care and support for people who are living with a life-limiting condition, as well as supporting their families.
Our 16-bed hospice is surrounded by beautiful, tranquil countryside which complements the specialist care and support we give to those with life-limiting conditions and their families.
In addition to our inpatient unit, our virtual day hospice service helps people living with long term conditions and our Hospice at Home service provides care for people in the local community who prefer to receive palliative care at home.
Our expert team includes doctors, nurses, care assistants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and family support team. They all work seamlessly together to support people through the most difficult times of their lives.
Whether somebody is dealing with a terminal illness or the loss of a loved one, we’re there when it matters. Sue Ryder staff and volunteers provide people with the compassion and expert care they need, to help them live the best life they can.