VIDEO: Save Our Hospice: What is St John’s Hospice?

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The majority of people in the Lancaster area will have heard of St John’s Hospice.

But does the local community really know much about it?

St John's Hospice.

St John's Hospice.

Chief executive Sue McGraw believes there are plenty of misconceptions about the work it does.

She said: “People with any life-limiting condition can come to St John’s Hospice, it’s not just cancer.

“After that there are three other things that I tell people.

“Two-thirds of our funding comes from fundraising, more of our work takes place outside our building than in it and the most important one is that half of the patients that come in here go home again.”

In terms of the funding Sue knows that the wider public don’t realise how vital fundraising is when it comes to securing the future of the hospice.

She said: “If you came into St John’s Hospice, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s so slick, it looks like the NHS, it’s clean, it’s smart and it’s professional.

“But only about a third of our income comes from the NHS, and two-thirds of our income, and bear in mind it takes £10,000 a day to run a place like this, comes from local donations from our community supporting us.

“People see doctors and nurses in uniforms and they assume everyone is paid by the NHS, but it’s just not true.

“Everything, the salary for doctors, the nurses, the staff that make the fabulous meals in the kitchens, the housekeeping team who keep us clean and safe.

“Two-thirds of everything is funded by the public every single day.”

The fastest-growing part of the work of St John’s is hospice at home, where a dedicated team of nurses help people spend the final weeks of their lives in their homes if they so desire as opposed to having to stay on the ward.

Sue said: “We have a huge and growing hospice at home service.

“Most of us if we were asked about our choices at the end of our lives, we’d want our own bed, to be near our own bathroom with all the things that we love and are familiar around us.

“We have a small team of nurses here that make that happen.

“It started about 10 years ago when one a patient said to one of our amazing nurses ‘I just want to go home to die’ and she took him home and supported him.

“That little germ of kindness has developed into a team that last year made 5,500 visits in our community to families that otherwise might not have been able to support someone to stay at home and achieve their last wishes.”

Despite providing palliative care, Sue insists that a trip to the hospice does not mean it’s the end, with their day hospice another vital service provided on Slyne Road.

She said: “The word hospice strikes fear into the hearts of most people and if I could change its name I probably would do!

“But half the people that come in go home again.

“They come here for pain relief, symptom control, sometimes just for respite care.

“If families aren’t coping or just need a break, we’ll look after their loved ones.

“It’s not just about the last hours of someone’s life.”