St John's Hospice History & Memories

Looking Back, Looking Forward 2010  - Present Day

As we reach the Present Day, St John’s Hospice now offers a wide variety of wrap around care, supporting not just patients but their family and loved ones. The scale of the hospice’s responsibility continues to grow. In doing so the hospice team look at more and more innovative ways to fund the vital care that is now widely known throughout the community and highly respected beyond. St John’s continues to plan for the future, providing ever more support to the community.

2010 Onwards...

Hospices (over 200) were now an established part of the care community and 2010 saw joint 25th Anniversary events with neighbouring Trinity Hospice and St Catherine’s Hospice.  

Day care services were growing and supporting patients with a wide range of conditions – fewer than half of the people cared for had cancer. Day care began offering COPD and Fatigue, Anxiety and Breathlessness services, as well as Day Hospice.  

Hospices are well known for their holistic services – best described as a ‘Hospice Hug’. This has meant additional necessary services such as social worker support, complementary therapies, bereavement support and wellbeing assistants.

Recognising that everyone needs to be empowered St John’s launched ‘Nourish’. The Hospice works with schools support to nurture children’s own talents and wellbeing, to encourage a rich life, well lived. Additionally, we use the opportunity to discuss Hospice care, and death, with children in an age-appropriate manner, to help them to be better prepared before the death of someone they love or to help with the acceptance after such a death.  

Engagement with the local community from Grasmere to Garstang, Morecambe to Sedbergh led to the development of the Last Days Matter programme. This was developed by North Lancashire Compassionate Communities, St John’s and Bay Health & Care Partners. The programme is a single 3-hour session covering many of the important aspects of palliative and end of life care that patients and families ask St John’s about. Last Days Matter is now delivered once a month and is open to everyone, free of charge. 

Hear Sue Hughes talk about Hospice at Home

Sue Hughes looks back at St John’s Hospice and how it and end of life care has evolved over the many years of her involvement not just at ST John’s Hospice but also the wider world of palliative community care. 

Income Generation

Ongoing fundraising is still vital to ensure salaries could be paid and therefore that care could still continue. The fundraising work of St John’s and its supporters continues to play a vital role in Hospice life and the community.   

Approximately one in six patients is cared for by kind legacies in Wills. Naturally, any Hospice cannot rely on legacies alone, which is why hospices work so hard to raise funds.  The fundraising works of the Sisters and the Friends of St John’s can never be underestimated. With an anticipated deficit it was necessary to invest in the backroom operations of the Hospice and appoint a small and permanent fundraising team.   

The scope of income generation activities has grown. In additional to well-loved traditional activities, there are now new favourites such as Colour Dashes, Golf Days, Skydives, runs, walks, swims and cycling events, plus the Charity Challenge with local businesses. There have even been Treks in China, Peru, the Sahara, Nepal and Cambodia! 

Income generation also takes place with gentler and equally important activities such as the St John’s Hospice Lottery, Regular Giving, retail therapy in our charity shops, donation boxes and more.  

Nonetheless, St John’s still relies on the generosity of its kind community, who arrange many fundraising activities independently to support our work. Shoppers in our high street shops, of which there are now 10, also play a significant role in supporting Hospice services.   

The Courtyard Gift Shop, situated in the reception area, formally opened in 2012. This beautiful small shop and the Hospice plants, nurtured by the infamous Peter and volunteers, also play an important and popular part in St John’s income generation.   

The Courtyard Café opened in September 2017 and was nominated for the High Sherriff’s award. The Courtyard Café has been a great success, with tables sought after!   

Grants are often sought for, especially for building works and equipment e.g. For ward refurbishments and equipment.

Listen to Jules talk about caring on the in Patient Ward

Jules takes time to talk with us about her own personal experiences of end of life care and her journey through a career in palliative care. She also reflects on the many changes that have happened here at St John’s and the wider care world while considering what the future might hold. 

Beyond Hospice Walls

Outreach services into the community started over 20 years ago. In addition to the Hospice at Home team, the St John’s Clinical Nurse Specialist Team are part of the St John’s family. St John’s Clinical Nurse Specialists are health professionals who have completed specialist palliative care courses in subjects such as pain and symptom management and psychological support. In North Lancashire, the St John’s Clinical Nurse Specialists are highly skilled nurses (often confused with Macmillan Nurses) who are charitably employed, trained and paid for by St John’s, not Macmillan.   

The night sitting team was established to support family carers looking after their loved ones at home. Many people who are caring for their loved ones at end-of-life need a little time to recuperate so that they can better cope with caring for the ones that mean so much to them. A night sitting visit sees the St John’s team member come to the house at 9:45pm and stay until 6:45am the next morning so that the carer can have a good night’s sleep, safe in the knowledge their loved one is being looked after. 

The coronavirus pandemic saw increasing numbers of families choosing to care for their loved ones at home. Meanwhile the health system was coping with extremely high levels of demand. St John’s continued to care for patients on the inpatient ward – whether they did or did not have COVID. The community team of Hospice at Home, Clinical Nurse Specialists and night sitters continued to visit patients and carers at home, when many other services were not operating.   

In the midst of the pandemic the Day Respite Service was introduced to provide family carers with a few hours to rest, to leave the home for an appointment, or to have their own respite time. 

Welcome to the Forget Me Not Centre

Families cared for by St John’s Hospice, told us how heart breaking it was to be split up for bereavement care and how they wished St John’s could continue to look after all of their family in this time. This was confirmed through a research project carried out by Lancaster University, which together with feedback from patients, families and our team showed that individual family members were usually directed to different services and organisations for support - at a time when being together is more important than ever. Research also tells us that the most effective type of therapy is whole family therapy, and before the Forget Me Not Centre there was none available free of charge in the area.  

The Forget Me Not Centre building is due to the kindness of two donors who wanted to see families, adults, children and young people benefit from bereavement support in a brand new, purpose-built environment.   

Again, the local community came out to support St John’s with individuals, families, businesses and organisations raising funds to buy furnishings, specific equipment and items for families – thank you!  

At the centre we can now work with families, children and young people to build resilience to help them cope with their bereavement. Outside the Forget Me Not Centre the team began and still do reach out to local schools to support teachers and pupils with bereavement support in an age-appropriate way. 

The Hospice at 40

As a charity we continue to look to the future with the 40th birthday of St John’s in 2026.  

Lessons learnt from the pandemic means we need to make adjustment and improvements to the inpatient ward – to make St John’s ‘future proof’.

The ever increasing demand for our community services. 76% of people would prefer to die at home. This means our day and night services are more keenly needed than ever  

Demand for bereavement support, before and after the death of a loved one will never disappear.

Closer working between the ward and the community team gains more importance as our joined up services are highly valued by patients and families – continuity is key.  

We are passionate about protecting and being proud of St John’s heritage and therefore the local community: the two can never be separated. We also know that the community relies on us to be there during one of the most difficult times a person can face.  

With you, by our side we look forward to the future and continuing to be the hospice that was ‘built by the people for the people’.

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