WITH bright painted frescos on the wall and the sun streaming in through the windows, it’s hard to feel uncomfortable stepping into St Wilfrid’s Hospice.
Monthly welcome-Wednesdays at the hospice are all about breaking down barriers, explains Avril Robinson, head of fundraising.
And by reaching out to the public, that’s exactly what staff and health professionals are aiming to do.
It is a common misconception that people stay in St Wilfrid’s for the rest of their lives. .
“The average stay in the hospice is between ten and 12 days,” said Avril. “That surprises people.
“But most visit the hospice for a period of respite and to control their symptoms.
“People want to be in their homes which is a familiar environment where they have family around the house.
“So there is so much more we’re doing out in the community.”
The care is supplemented by the hospital at home team.
“Its about making community care more effective and more efficient,” said Avril.
“The staff build strong relationships with the patients, helping them to feel at ease. A lot of patients really look forward to visits.”
Nestled in a quiet part of Chichester, the hospice itself is a charity, providing end-of-life and palliative care for people within the community.
St Wilfrid’s is supported by links with St Richard’s Hospital and prides itself on caring for each patient individually.
“We’ve had one woman enjoying a glass of bubbly in the bath before,” said Avril.
“People often have one thing they really want to do. One woman loved morris dancers so much we organised for them to come out and perform for her in the garden.
“If people want to, we can push them out into the garden to enjoy the day.”
The hospice is surrounded by picturesque gardens, which can be seen from a lot of the spacious rooms in the hospice.
“We have our busy days,” said Avril.
“We treat each person and their situation as individual.”
Even when it comes to food, the hospice has worked hard to be flexible.
“We have introduced new moulded meals,” said Teresa, chef at St Wilfrid’s.
“We had a man in his 40s – he said it was like being served baby food and didn’t enjoy the pureed food, so we decided to do something about it.”
The meals are cooked, pureed and frozen, but keep their shape when they are cooked.
“They taste exactly the same, they are just easier to eat.”
A place for reflection
Family and friends have their own entrance to the hospice and are free to use the kitchen to make a much-needed cup of tea.
The hospice even has its own chapel which provides a restful space for family, friends and residents.
“Regardless of whether they have beliefs, sometimes family members just want to step away,” said Avril.
The chapel’s stained-glass windows and the patterned glasswork in the conservatory give a boost of colour to the surroundings.
Art is popular with the patients in the hospice and the day centre, with large displays adorning the walls.
“Some of the glass patterns were designed by patients,” said Avril.
The day centre and hospice offers occupational and holistic therapy, a consulting and bereavement service and physiotherapy.
“We have even spent time working with schoolchildren,” said Avril. “We want to help children and adults to talk openly about death and dying – something which a lot of people find quite difficult.”
n For more information about Welcome Wednesdays contact St Wilfrid’s Hospice on 01243 755804