end of life care

Fabric hearts keep patients and families connected at Ashgate Hospicecare

Ashgate Hospicecare has introduced fabric hearts to help keep families connected during the Coronaviurs pandemic.

The hand sewn hearts are made in matching fabric, with one kept by the patient and the other given to the family member. The charity is hoping that this will provide comfort to those who are unable to visit the hospice and encourage feelings of togetherness during a time when so many are apart.

Arlene Honeyman, Head of Supportive Care at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “This has been a really difficult year for so many of us. This is especially true for our patients and their families who are hoping to create precious memories in the time they have left together.

“The hearts are a beautiful way to let someone know that your heart is missing theirs. Sometimes the only safe connection is by a video call, if both hearts are shown then this is a compassionate and powerful visual way to connect and remind the other person that you are sending them your love and that you remain connected.”

The hand sewn hearts were donated by Shelagh’s Sewing Circle, a volunteer group in the Dronfield area founded and led by Shelagh Cheetham, 63, who is a retired teacher. Her now 200-strong volunteer group has also made and donated more than 66,000 face masks to key workers and frontline staff in the local community, as well as across the UK since March of 2020.

With the demand for masks reducing, the group was determined to continue providing support in the local community and Shelagh knew exactly where they could start.

Shelagh said: “I’ve been a firm supporter of Ashgate since my father-in-law was cared for at the hospice 12-years ago. I am honoured to be able to give something back to such an amazing organisation and to know that I am helping people during the darkest times of their lives.”

“Needing the support of the hospice can be such a difficult time in a person’s life, as they learn to live with an uncertain future. It can be hard for the family to visit their loved ones and then go home each day without them. The hearts are something they can carry with them, even after their loved one has died and know that someone cares.

“This is something both me and my volunteers are very passionate about.”

The group is now working towards building a charity that helps combat loneliness and isolation in the local community through the medium of crafting and creativity.

The fabric hearts will also be available across the charity’s 14 shops to offer comfort and support to grieving relatives donating their loved one’s possessions.

Julia Hewerdine, Manager of the Donation Centre at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “In the present climate, it can be very difficult accepting a donation from a bereaved customer. It’s human nature to want to hug a person who is sometimes crying or showing raw emotion.

“You must try and console them with words and that doesn’t always feel enough. It can be heart-breaking to be stood in front of someone who is emotional and not be able to reach out to offer that support.

“The hearts will allow us to spread kindness and provide us with a new way to offer comfort in these difficult times. It is something that they can take away with them as a reminder that they are not alone.”

To find out how you can support Ashgate Hospicecare, go to www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk

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Ashgate Hospicecare receives funding commitment from the CCG to safeguard jobs and end of life care

After months of negotiations, Ashgate Hospicecare and NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have come to an agreement which will safeguard jobs and vital end-of-life care for the residents of North Derbyshire.

The charity, which employs over 300 paid staff, has secured a settlement to work in partnership with the CCG to help shape end-of-life care and plans for North Derbyshire. Staff have been informed that the hospice now will not have to make redundancies and cut services in the New Year as previously feared.

Barbara-Anne Walker, Chief Executive at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “We are delighted that the CCG has confirmed its commitment to Ashgate Hospicecare and to working together to deliver the best possible end-of-life care in North Derbyshire.
“It is such a huge relief to know that we will be able to provide the care our community needs both now and into the future. It will also ensure that we will be able to continue to see as many patients as we do now, and we are able to continue to offer the same high-quality care that our patients deserve.

“It has been an incredibly worrying time for staff, and we couldn’t have achieved this outcome without the support of our local community and healthcare colleagues who have spoken up for us. Hundreds of people campaigned on our behalf, they shone a light on Ashgate’s situation, which meant that our plight could not be ignored. What they have achieved collectively is nothing short of incredible.”

Like many charities, Ashgate Hospicecare has seen its income dramatically hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in at least £2.4 million in lost revenue.

Barbara-Anne continues: “Of course, being a charity, our funding challenges never completely go away, and the 2021 outlook for fundraising and retail remains extremely challenging. However, we are more confident than ever that with the support of our community we will be able to weather this storm.”

Richard Chapman, Chief Finance Officer at NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Ashgate Hospice continues to be an important part of the health service provision in Derbyshire. We are pleased that the CCG, on behalf of the wider NHS system, has been able to work with the hospice over recent weeks to assure colleagues there of the value we place on the specialist services provided by their excellent staff.

“The agreement we have reached reflects the ongoing partnership we have with the hospice, and the role it plays working with us in shaping services that ensure excellent care is available to our population throughout their lives.”

Ashgate Hospicecare supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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