St John's Hospice History & Memories

Hospice Care Develops 1996 - 2009

St John’s Hospice keeps ahead of the curve developing and refining what hospice care means along the way. Adding more value to the community St John’s builds ties with medical schools as well as launching additional services to support the changing needs of the community. The financial challenge mounts and the hospice develops a modern fundraising team bring new opportunities for the community to support their hospice. 

Hospice Care Develops

1996 saw initiatives which are still with us today such as the Christmas Light up a Life services in Lancaster & Kendal. Services such as these enable people to reflect and celebrate those they have ‘loved and lost’, providing a vital part of the post bereavement support St John’s offers to the local community.  

This decade saw the beginnings of St John’s Hospice at Home service. This vital service started with a small number of patients who chose to return home for their care, being escorted by ward staff. Traditionally, end of life care was provided in the home by relatives, friends and neighbours, supported by district nurses and GPs – now this could continue with the much-valued and support of Hospice staff with their additional skills and expertise.   

The excellent reputation of St John’s meant that in 2005 Medical Students from Liverpool were hosted and this continued as the Medical School at Lancaster evolved. St John’s still hosts nursing, medical, paramedical and social workers today from a number of universities.   

Day Clinics for patients with life shortening illnesses were growing thanks to the opening of the Oak Centre such as a Motor Neurone Disease clinic in 2009.  

The Gold Standards Framework, which is still used across the health system was introduced. The contentious Liverpool Care Pathway also came into being, to be disbanded in 2012. 

Hear from Mike Warren as the Hospice's first Medical Officer

Dr Mike Warren has been a part of St John’s Hospice since before its creation and has helped steer the direction of the outstanding care that the hospice is renowned for. Mike now serves as a Patron of St John’s after serving many years as a Trustee. 

Balancing the Books

St John’s Hospice is a charity. It has always been funded by its local community, but this could and never can be guaranteed. We have always known we’re only here because of the community’s generosity. The NHS contributes approximately 25% of the funding needed to run all of its services.   

The hospice building, erected from new and second-hand materials, often struggled with a leaking roof! In 2010, the Hospice roof, was patched up and areas of the ward were refurbished to make it even more welcoming and ensure a different atmosphere to a traditional Hospital ward.

Whilst relying on the kindness of the community with fundraising events, donations and legacies left in Wills, the shape of the Hospice’s fundraising needed to change to meet increasing demand for palliative and end of life care. Local hospices such as St John’s worked with the national umbrella organisation; ‘Help the Hospices’, to try and secure regular funding to make its future more secure. This relationship was vital as on a number of one-off occasions when funding was secured by Help the Hospices from the Government. St John’s was very grateful for this, whilst hoping and waiting for an agreed regular revenue funding settlement from the Government.  

2009 saw a dip in income and there were real concerns of a significant deficit, which would undoubtedly have an impact on patient care. It was agreed to develop a staffed fundraising team. This was also the time of the first Moonlight Walks – an opportunity for people to walk together in memory of those who had died or were very poorly. The walks became very popular and still take place today! 

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”

Dame Cicely Saunders
Founder of the modern hospice movement

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