As well as providing end-of-life care in on its wards, Bury Hospice also looks after people in the community and is involved much earlier in their diagnosis. Mike Crutchley reports

HELPING patients early in a life-limiting diagnosis is key to the success of the hospice’s outreach service.

Launched as a pilot scheme in March, the hospice’s outreach team has been extended for a further six months and outreach support worker Julie Clegg says the service is making a difference.

She said: “Every day is different. Every patient is different and every family is different.

“We help with their care but there are so many other things we can do just by being there. Some people are anxious about their illness or treatment, others are worried about bills and benefits, and sometimes someone is just reassured that you are there.”

During a recent visit, Julie spent time on the phone with the DWP as she helped sort out benefits for a patient.

Patient services development lead Jackie Halstead said: “The hospice at home care which outreach replaced helped during the last few days of a patient’s life. Now, with outreach, we are getting involved much earlier in their diagnosis to support patients and their families, signpost what help and other services are available and talk through the process of their illness to they know what to expect.

“It is not just about dying, it is about living well. We are getting involved much earlier than when the illness reaches crisis point and patients are being rushed into hospital.

“And care does not end with the death of a patient. We continue to look after their family as they try to deal with their bereavement.

“Every family is different. Sometimes staff go to funerals, people often keep in touch long afterwards, and many volunteer or help raise funds for the hospice.!

Head of fundraising Rachel Wallace said: “The future of this service is down to fundraising. We rely on the community to get behind the outreach service.

“The response to the service has been phenomenal and it is really making a difference, so we need to make sure we can raise the funds for it to continue.”

Head of fundraising Rachel Wallace said: “The outreach pilot ends in March but we are actively seeking funding to ensure its sustainability beyond then.”

TRIPS to Blackpool Illuminations and Knowsley Safari Park are just some of the activities day service patients enjoy.

Gina Gaff said: “We do so much, from quizzes, crafts, music and singing, as well as the trips to Blackpool and Knowsley.

“It is not just about medical treatment. We are creating memories for the patients and their families.

“People need help in lots of different ways and we are like one big family. They probably get more support from each other than they do from us.

“Everyone comes here for different reasons and we help get people’s confidence up and support them with their illness.”

As with other parts of the hospice, volunteers are key to the day service’s success.

Gina said: “Our volunteer drivers are wonderful. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to run the service.”

The service also helps patients reach other services they need, and offers complimentary therapies, as well as a hairdresser who volunteers their time.

Patients recently made a scarecrow nurse as part of Tottington Scarecrow Festival, and are currently making Christmas cakes and are preparing for their Christmas party.