River Wissey Lovell Fuller


December 2007

A reminder of the excellent work performed by the swaffham and Litcham Hospice.

Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice was set up in 1988 because there was a lack of support for terminally ill patients in the local community. From very small beginnings, just 3 volunteers, it has grown to a group of 30 volunteers managed on a day-to-day basis by a team of four: our co-ordinator, Debbie Harfield; her two Assistants, Georgie Roberts and Alan Collison; and a part-time Secretary, Jackie McCarthy.

It is now a limited company and registered charity. Our financial and administrative strategy is conducted by a twelve-strong management committee which meets 4 times a year. We are a non-medical organisation giving practical and emotional support to patients, suffering from life threatening illnesses, and their families. We cover an area bounded by Whissonsett in the north, Weeting in the south, Bradenham in the east and Shouldham in the west. However, any patient who lives outside our published boundary has their request considered on its merits together with our ability to respond appropriately. If we found that we were unable to help directly, we would try to arrange more suitable support for the individual concerned.

We receive referrals from GPs, district nurses, Macmillan nurses, other hospices, QEH consultants and discharge teams, and indeed some patients self-refer having heard about us from their GP surgery. We annually support about 100 patients and their families. Volunteer carers visit patients at home, help with shopping, fetch prescriptions, and sit with a patient so the family can have time out. Our volunteers receive full training and we try carefully to match them to a patient's needs.

We also provide a number of different services for patients and their families. We loan specialist equipment to enable patients to be more comfortable at home. We provide Day Care at Swaffham Community Hospital to provide the patient with a change of scenery in safe surroundings as well as enabling their carers to have some respite and personal time. We transport and escort patients and their carers for hospital appointments. This avoids the patient having to wait around unnecessarily for others and for those who have no relatives or friend to accompany them some emotional support at a difficult time.

We provide bereavement support and run a fortnightly Bereavement Group, where people can meet, be supported in the longer term, and it provides a forum to make new friends. Annually we hold a tree of lights service at Swaffham Community Hospital at Christmas at which relatives who have lost one of our patients can sponsor a light on the tree in their memory.

We run an Art and Craft Group for terminally ill patients at our offices in Brocks Road, Swaffham (just further on from the Ecotech building) each week. This popular activity provides an opportunity for patients to try something different and they enjoy these mornings. We also offer advice and support to ladies who have hair loss as a result of cancer treatments. Lastly we provide a Reflexology service which patients have found relaxing and therapeutic; this is either done alongside our Art and Craft group sessions, or in the home.

As a charity working in the health field we receive a grant from the Norfolk Primary Care Trust which funds about 40% of our work. For the remainder we rely on donations and gifts. To help us we have a separate fundraising committee, which works tirelessly on the Hospices behalf throughout the year.

I hope this article has informed you about our work. We are a local charity providing much needed support, in conjunction with the NHS, to terminally ill patients and their families. We are always looking for volunteers. If you are interested in helping us in any way, please contact Debbie, our Co-ordinator on 01760 722937.

Peter Wainright

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