If you are affected by a life-limiting illness, either as a patient or as a friend, family member or carer, it can be an incredibly daunting and frightening time, and you will have a lot of worries and questions.
In answer to this need, St Barnabas House is launching a brand new service, the Hospice Outreach Project, this week.
This project, funded by the Department of Health, will help answer questions and ease worries for those affected by a life-limiting condition, taking the hospice right out to the community.
The Hospice Outreach Project is a mobile unit which provides a flexible and accessible range of services right into the heart of the community. It is staffed by a senior nurse, who will be able to provide information and advice on all aspects of hospice care available at St Barnabas House and in the local community.
The specially equipped vehicle also acts as an education resource for healthcare professionals and the wider community, enabling the hospice’s specialist staff to work closely with GPs and community teams to give advice and support in areas of symptom management, emotional, spiritual, psychological and bereavement support for patients, their families and significant others.
Learning from others
As the hospice was looking at ways of reaching new groups of patients and carers, we discovered a community-based hospice initiative at Farleigh Hospice in Essex that involved the use of a mobile information vehicle.
This vehicle visits numerous locations across a geographical patch, and targets patients, relatives, carers and professionals with the aim of improving information, advice and guidance on end of life care services in the area.
Director of Adult Nursing at St Barnabas, Andy Burt, visited Farleigh Hospice to find out more and fed back to the senior management team and hospice trustees.
Following several further discussions it was decided to develop the St Barnabas Hospice Outreach Project, as part of a wider drive to provide more support and information to our local community.
Ruth Keeble, Hospice Outreach Project Lead, explains: “In looking at the way people access our service, we recognised there was a simpler way to offer advice and guidance on the local services available to help people with end of life care needs. In wanting to reach people at an earlier stage of their journey, we felt it was essential to tackle the myth of what a hospice is and does, as well as how other services are set up to support local people.
“This is very much about our organisation looking outwards, taking advice and support out to our local community, and reaching more people in a different kind of way. We recognise the needs of our community are changing and, in order to meet these changes, we need to work in different ways ourselves.”
The team at St Barnabas House have been working alongside Farleigh Hospice to complete this project. Their advice, experience and expertise has been invaluable in ensuring that the St Barnabas service will fulfil its purpose in the best way possible.
Ruth spent two days working with the Hospice Outreach Team at Farleigh Hospice in Essex. They started their service in 2008 and have recently developed it further by setting up an Information Service within their building and latterly in the nearby hospital.
Ruth said: “As the lead on our new project, the time spent with Maria, Liz and Gary at Farleigh was invaluable. Having quality time with both in the Hospice Outreach Project Office and also out on their vehicle gave me a much greater understanding of how the service operates and the practicalities involved.”
Advice for others
Ruth advises that, for anyone else considering following in their footsteps, time spent learning face-to-face from existing projects is time well spent.
“Employing a suitable driver and achieving the correct licensing for the service has taken quite some time. Gaining advice concerning this from Farleigh or St Barnabas House would speed up this process for anyone setting up a new Outreach Project,” said Ruth.
“I would recommend that anyone wishing to set up a similar service should allow up to three months. Much of this time is spent identifying and negotiating suitable sites for the service to visit. I would recommend finding sites right across your catchment area and not to be only tempted by busy shopping areas, more rural patients, families and carers will need your advice too.”
The St Barnabas Hospice Outreach Project is launching on 15 April and we hope to reach around 800 individuals in our first year.
The Outreach Project will available in the Adur, Arun, Henfield and Worthing areas, with timetables available from local papers, GP surgeries, local chemists, Parish Councils, St Barnabas House Hospice and online at www.stbh.org.uk
“I’m definitely looking forward to the time ahead of me and my team and can’t wait to see our hard work in action,” Ruth concludes.
For further information, please contact Ruth Keeble on 01903 706357 or email HospiceOutreachProject@stbh.org.uk