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St Leonard’s Hospice finds new model for day care

Author: Theresa Barrett
28 June 2017

St Leonard’s Hospice in York opened in 1985, and its day care unit hardly changed in the whole time it had been open. This, coupled with falling patient figures, led to a revamp of the services they offered. As a result the new Sunflower Centre was unveiled, which recently had its first anniversary. Theresa Barrett explains what changes they have put in place.

The previous day centre successfully met the needs of specific groups of patients, so to build on this history and increase referrals from a wider range of patients, we revolutionised the Sunflower Centre timetable to include more tailored support services for patients living with progressive life-limiting conditions such as cancer, lung disease, heart failure, or neurological conditions.  Support is also offered to patients’ families and carers.

Following a referral from a patient’s healthcare professional, the patient (with family member or carer) attend an initial assessment to discuss an individual plan of care that best suits the patient’s requirements.  We have always offered a holistic approach, but these new developments ensure more people are helped and that a bespoke service better supports patients, families and carers, as needs change.

Dr Jonathan Singh, the Sunflower Centre Manager comments:

“Because we are more patient-centred, we approach everyone’s requirements in a targeted way.  As those needs change, so our responses change, to ensure the best possible care at every stage of their journey.”

One patient who has benefited from this development is Lucie Wake.  Just a year ago Lucie was so unwell from a relapse of Multiple Sclerosis that she found herself at her lowest point, emotionally and physically. She says:

“I spent six months in the house unable to get out. I had terrible back pain and was on morphine. I literally thought, ‘I have no life now, I can’t get out the house and have no independence’.”

Lucie was offered complementary therapies including a sports massage which helped the pain in her back. But just as importantly, she says, the team and others using the service lifted her out of a darkness she was feeling emotionally. Lucie explains:

“It is a very nurturing place and the staff laugh all the time. It is where you can say the truth, which is really important – you are not with your family who you are trying to protect, so you can say it like it is. It is very uplifting.”

Dr. Jonathan Singh added:

“We were delighted to be able to support Lucie and a further 134 patients in our first year.  We had 338 referrals to complementary therapy too.  We will continue working with GP practices to encourage even more this year.” 

Aside from a doctor, lead nurse and care assistants, the team also includes a senior occupational therapist, voluntary complementary therapists, an activities co-ordinator, a Lymphoedema sister, social workers, spiritual care team, and a physiotherapist.

Services on offer now include:

  • Relaxation and Re-enablement Day (R&R Day). This is tailored to patients’ unique care and therapy plan, offering specialist support to help maintain independence, enhance quality of life and patients’ knowledge and confidence in living as well as possible with their condition.
  • A range of complementary therapies are available to patients and their families or carers as part of R&R Day and/or outpatients appointments, including Reiki, reflexology, massage, meditation/relaxation, Indian Head Massage and mindfulness.
  • Catch Your Breath (CYB) Workshop, a workshop for patients living with breathlessness and fatigue, however relatives and carers may also attend. The course is designed with self-management in mind, covering restful sleep, nutrition and hydration, gentle and adapted exercise, and self-management techniques to ease breathlessness, anxiety and acute episodes of symptoms. Therapeutic relaxation and diversional techniques are also explored, from a non-pharmacological perspective.
  • Art Therapy, a multi-session course led by an art psychotherapist for patients to explore emotions and issues in a safe and confidential environment.
  • Bereavement Drop-in for anyone who has been bereaved.

For more information visit St Leonard’s Hospice

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