Hospice leads the way in new format for community group’s meetings

From left, Morpeth Lions Club President Geoff Bushell, Kate Gilbertson from St Oswald's Hospice and Morpeth Lion Ian Brown.
From left, Morpeth Lions Club President Geoff Bushell, Kate Gilbertson from St Oswald's Hospice and Morpeth Lion Ian Brown.

Morpeth Lions Club

MORPETH Lions Club recently welcomed Kate Gilbertson from St Oswald’s Hospice to one of its meetings.

Kate is the hospice’s East Northumberland fund-raiser.

Kate thanked Lions for choosing St Oswald’s to be its first speaker for a changing meeting format that will see a chosen charity talk at one of its twice-monthly meetings.

She also thanked the club for its regular donations over the years, before going on to explain that the charity was founded in the 1970s, with the hospice opening in 1986.

Since then many thousands of patients have been helped at no charge. Much of this is made possible by the assistance of some 1,100 volunteers.

The care at the hospice is not only to assist people in an end-of-life situation, but also provides a variety of palliative care to those with serious illnesses. It has been calculated that at some stage in people’s lives one in three of us will in some way be touched by hospice care.

Since opening, St Oswald’s has expanded by creating six main units on the site – Inpatients, Outpatients, a Day Hospice, Bereavement Support, a Children’s Service and a Young Adults Unit.

The emphasis in design has consistently sought to have ‘the outdoors coming in’, with each part of the hospice surrounded by 25 extremely attractive gardens with different themes.

The 15-bed Inpatients unit has patients in a variety of circumstances, with only five beds usually allocated for end-of-life situations.

The Day Unit opened in 1990 and is nurse-managed and available Monday to Friday, with a craft room and other facilities.

One major objective with this unit, and some others at the hospice, is to provide a highly attractive and therapeutic environment for patients, and to provide an alternative environment to home, which also in many cases gives carers a break.

The Outpatients unit has a particular emphasis on Lymphoedema care – severely swollen limbs which result from chemotherapy, whilst Bereavement Support dedicates itself both to before and after end-of-life situations.

The Children’s Service opened in 2003 and specialises in short breaks, usually of three to four days, providing support and relief to children and their carers.

Beds are available for parents in some rooms and the children can bring personal effects from home to personalise their room.

The service now has a Sensory Room, which has state-of-the-art technology to provide sensory stimulation, such as music and movement to children with severe mobility or other extreme problems. The equipment can even be activated by the blink of an eye.

The sixth unit is the Young Adults Service for 18 to 25-year-olds, which has equipment such as computers and other suitable kit for that age group.

Most recently, St Oswald’s has opened a Day Hospice Salon, and is continually improving facilities on site.

There is also a Chapel on site where weddings have been performed.

The ethos of St Oswald’s is that there should be ‘quality time for everyone’. To this end, it even tries to facilitate special experiences for its patients – in one case gliding for someone whose ambition that had been.

With more than £10million costs per annum, the hospice is reliant upon donations and staged events.

It has shops throughout the region, which raise £2million per annum, receives legacies, and has a vital regular ‘giving’ fund whereby people can donate as little as £2 per month.

In addition there is currently a raffle (£1 per ticket), with this year’s first prize being a car, and also a weekly lottery (£1 per week), which raises funds sufficient to keep the hospice open one day per week.

Morpeth Lions Club President Geoff Bushell praised the marvellous work undertaken by St Oswald’s and thanked Kate for her excellent talk.

Together with Social Services Chairman, Lion Ian Brown, he presented a £150 cheque for the hospice.

To learn more about the hospice, Kate can be contacted by telephone on 0191 2469123, or by email to kategilbertson@stoswaldsuk.org