stgiles_d2_s2_095-2St Giles Hospice CEO Emma Hodges talks about how St Giles Supportive Care Centre is helping to tackle the fear associated with hospices and at the same time cre ate a supportive community hub.

“Many people associate ‘hospice’ with a ‘place to go to die’ and when they visit our Supportive Care Centre in Sutton they are surprised that it has no beds and is full of life,” said Emma.

“We are incredibly proud that the centre has been at the forefront of changing people’s perception of hospice care locally.

“It is quite difficult to describe ‘Hospice Care’ as many people will assume that all of our patients are very close to the end of their lives and need our specialist nurses, doctors and therapists all of the time.

“This is true for many of our patients at our in-patient units at Whittington and Walsall but a great deal of our work is focussed on supporting people living with a life limiting illness in their homes and in the community.

“Some of our patients need our specialist care occasionally to help manage some of the symptoms associated with a serious illness. Others can be supported by trained volunteers and support workers with specialist care as and when needed.  Much of our care is provided either in people’s homes or in centres like Sutton in the heart of our community.

“There is a famous story about hospice care. Dame Cicely Saunders who founded the modern hospice movement asked a patient to describe what was wrong and the patient said “All of me is wrong” meaning her anxieties relating to her family, how her illness had challenged her faith and other areas of her life not related to her physical symptoms.  Hospice Care is about the ‘all of me is wrong’ and focuses on what matters most to our patients is recognising each person is a unique individual.

“Our Sutton Supportive Care Centre has led the way in helping to provide the ‘all of me suppostgiles_d2_s3_040-2rt’. The centre not only gives access to our specialist healthcare teams but also helps to tackle other aspects of care that our patients have told us about.

“Living with a life limiting illness presents physical and mental challenges. We can support with everything from needing advice on how to exercise safely to providing activities that support wellbeing such as massage and relaxation and gardening.

“The centre also helps if people are feeling isolated. The centre runs regular coffee mornings and lunch clubs as well as our café, where people can just drop in for a coffee providing space to eat and make friends.

“This is a vital part of hospice care that helps people get the most out of their lives whilst living with a serious illness.

“The centre also provides support for people living with loss through our Bereavement Help Point, which runs on a Monday morning. It’s a drop in session staffed by volunteers from 10.30am for a couple of hours. It’s open to anyone who has lost someone, whether it’s a friend or familemma-hodges-2y member, who feels they need some support.

“I heard a lovely story from one of our team the other day which sums up what we do at the Supportive Care Centre. A gentleman came in regularly to bring his wife in for a treatment session with one of our therapists. Each time he would stop for a coffee and a read of the paper in the café area.

“Sadly his wife died and for a few weeks no one saw him. Then one morning the same day as her regular appointment, he stopped in for a coffee and a read of his paper, saying hello to the staff and other centre users.

“He’s continued to come ever since.”

To find out more about how St Giles Supportive Care can help if you or a friend or family member are living with a life limiting illness, please call our Advice and Referral Line on 0300 3309410for a chat with one of our nurses about how we can support you.

To find out more about activities at the centre in Sutton Coldfield or to attend a coffee morning, lunch club or bereavement support group, drop in or call 0121 378 6290.

If you’d like to support St Giles through volunteering, fundraising or even booking the supportive care centre for an event or conference please get in touch.