As part of Hospice Care Week, a national awareness week to raise the profile of the incredible work hospices do, St Helena Hospice in Colchester has highlighted the difference the support of the community makes to hospices and the people they care for. The theme for Hospice Care Week 2019 is ‘This Is What It Takes’. Hospice staff explain the fundamentals of offering support and care to people with life-limiting conditions.

CARING for a loved one with an incurable condition takes a lot.

It takes consideration, respect, empathy and all the determination we can muster.

For staff at St Helena Hospice in Colchester, they make sure each and every patient is cared for in the best way possible.

In the past year, the hospice cared for more than 3,500 patients and families across north Essex.

Their care is tailored to an individual’s needs and is provided wherever it is needed.

The theme for Hospice Care Week, which runs this week, is ‘This Is What It Takes’.

Staff at the hospice from all walks of life have shared their stories on why they signed up.

Veronica Hall is a domestic assistant who has worked for St Helena for 17 years. She decided she wanted to work for the charity after her mum was a patient 24 years ago.

She said: “While my mum was at the hospice I got on really well with the domestic team and became really good friends with some of them.

“They allowed me to go round to the laundry room and do ironing - because I love ironing it was actually a therapy for me.

“I started volunteering after my mum died and then they approached me and asked if I wanted to be part of the team.

“I was over the moon to have the chance to come back and give back what St Helena had offered to me and my family.”

People’s perception of a hospice is normally doom and gloom.

But Veronica has always said a feeling of purpose comes when she walks through the door.

Veronica said: “If the domestic team doesn’t clean the building, then it’s not fit for purpose. So even though we are not very seen, if we don’t do our job then the building can’t be used to care for patients.

“It takes passion, love, care, consideration, respect and empathy to provide hospice care – and we are part of that.”

It costs £8.9million a year to run St Helena with two thirds of that coming from fundraising and donations.

Pat Sharman donates her time every week to count all the loose change donations.

Pat said: “I really enjoy it, I’ve always worked in finance so I really enjoy working with money and I am very dedicated to it. It’s a funny little job but someone has to do it.

“My mum was also a patient here, she was only here for a few days but it was such a relief to us and I feel I am helping.

“I decided to volunteer for St Helena because I wanted to give something back. Who knows in the future if I might need it.”

Every role at the hospice matters. It is not just doctors and nurses who provide vital care.

Jack Green is an IT technician at St Helena. He helps the medical teams access systems to assist them in caring for patients.

Jack said: “I just want to help when patients have these silly little issues with IT so they can focus on what is important to them. When the family all have smiles on their faces and you have done exactly what they’ve asked, it feels like I have done my good deed for the day.

“What I like about the hospice is they will pull out all the stops to make sure the patient does get exactly what they want. If I can feed into that just a little bit, even by getting their phone signal back, then happy days.”

Elaine Bodfield is a cook at the hospice. Each week St Helena uses around 216 pints of milk, 180 eggs, 27 loaves of bread and 50kg of potatoes – this is what it takes to feed all the patients, visitors, staff and volunteers.

Elaine said: “Everything we cook is homemade and prepared from scratch within the hospice kitchen.

“Like everyone working at the hospice, we are really focused on the patients and we are more than happy to cater for different tastes and specific requests whenever we can.

“A patient’s taste buds and food preferences may change, therefore we are happy to cook anything they would like and we really enjoy catering for everyone’s requirements.

“While we do focus on our patients’ requirements, we also ensure we are providing a meal for the families and friends who are here to visit.

“I find my role really rewarding and satisfying, it’s the one and only job I can say that for.”

It takes hundreds of caring hands, listening ears, and copious amounts of compassion to provide hospice care to the community.