Rex was our very first patient at our Penzance Neighbourhood Hub. He dropped in to Clarence House in October last year (2017) after his sister-in-law suggested he visit. Rex had a long history of breathing difficulties, and pain in his joints and bones.

At this initial appointment a lot of information was gathered and as Rex had referred himself, links were made with his GP to gain more medical detail before any treatments began. His first session was then conducted by Michelle Earle, Physiotherapist, at St Julia’s Hospice, which is nearer to his home than Penzance.

img

“With specific breathing exercises, pain management techniques and general advice Rex improved significantly and started managing his symptoms much better”, says Michelle. “We also referred him on to Sandy, one of our Complementary Therapists, who treated him with aromatherapy and massage and gave him specific treatments to continue at home. He began walking a little more each day and building up his exercise tolerance and his independence. It was good to see him cheered on by his successes and he started planning to return to the choir he so enjoys being a part of.”

Unfortunately Rex became less well just before Christmas and developed a chest infection. At this point he was too poorly to visit the hospice for his treatment so the physiotherapist went to see him at home to offer treatment and advice about his ongoing care. Happily he made a good recovery and didn’t have to go to hospital and Rex says this was a real plus, “the Hub team have helped make my life so much better and were instrumental in keeping me out of hospital this time. It’s good to know the team by name and to have that personal contact. I have to say the treatments have made such a difference to me. The Hub and the hospice are fantastic places with wonderful people.”

A day in the life of not one but two shops

A blog by Jan Pallett, Digital Media Officer for Cornwall Hospice Care

On what was possibly the worst weather day in Cornwall this year (so far), it was my turn to find out what a “day in the life” of our shops was all about.  I managed to negotiate snow showers and icy conditions without incident to spend some time in not one but two of our Truro shops.

In some ways, I felt like I was going back to my roots somewhat as my mum, a Truro girl through and through had started her working life as a “shop girl” in the city back in the early 50’s.  But nostalgia aside, I was keen to arrive and find out exactly what makes the modern charity shop tick.

My morning was spent in our Truro Lifestyle Pop-Up shop working alongside Sarah Kundracik.  Sarah explained to me that she’d worked quite extensively in fashion retail before joining Cornwall Hospice Care, in Wallis and New Look.  “I do enjoy working in the hospice shops as I feel like I’m doing something more worthwhile than just making a profit for an owner who is just funding his next yacht purchase” Sarah adds as we chat.

We’re soon joined by one of our Community Fundraisers, Judy Lawton who breezes in to say hello in between meetings in the city.  Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I ask Judy to give our #TwentyPoundChallenge a whirl, seeing if she can pick out a whole outfit for £20 or under.  She’s soon picking out items and heads off to the changing rooms.  “Here you go!” she exclaims as she exits the changing room in a top, jeans and shoes all for just £13!  “And this is definitely the sort of thing I’d normally wear too.” she adds beaming.

The new Riviera range of bamboo tableware has arrived and has been put on display, but we need to update some of the bar-coded labels so the recently installed new till system can read them, so first job of the day is to get the new labels on them.  The range seems to have created quite a lot of interest and Sarah tells me she’s sold quite a few items already, with the lidded travel mug being a real hit, particularly as it’s priced at just £2.75 (Judy buys one just before she heads off to her next meeting!).

I ask Sarah to tell me more about the new till system known as “Cybertill” and she’s happy to show me some great features, which the old system just didn’t have.  Taking the Riviera Travel Mug as an example, Sarah shows me how she can scan the bar code or type in a key word of any new goods item and see her stock plus stock in all our other shops too!  “It’s great if a customer has seen something but we are low on stock or they want to see if their local shop has the item” she explains.  “There’s also a feature that allows shops to message each other – particularly useful for our Truro shops, if a problem arises or extra help is needed – all done without me leaving the till area, which can be difficult as I can often find myself on my own in the shop.”

As with all modern technology of course, it is reliant on connection to the internet, which sometimes can be temperamental, but on the flip side having such technology at each shop’s fingertips also means they have a real-time view of how sales are going for the week too.

Before I know it, it’s lunchtime and time for me to head over to our Truro Boutique shop and meet Aarron Stroud managing the shop today.  He gives me a quick tour of a couple of the floors of the building on St Nicholas Street (it has 4 floors in total!) and he also explains;  “The Boutique sorting area provides the clothes sorting and tagging for all the Truro Shops.  Clothing is sorted into items to go to the Clearance part of the Truro Homestyle Store at the top of Pydar street, branded items stay at the Boutique and other items head off to the Lifestyle Pop-Up shop.”

I ask him how I can help.  I make a start by pairing up & tagging shoes that have just come in, to make life easier and ensure that Aarron’s bag of odd shoes doesn’t grow any bigger!  Then Aarron gets me tagging some items which are destined for the Lifestyle Pop-Up shop, with a few words of warning – “Keep your fingers out of the way of the needle!”.  I start off well, but then get complacent and get my finger in the way – just the once though!  Aarron starts on steaming some garments while I carry on tagging and we chat about our respective jobs and Aarron tells me; “I could work somewhere else, but I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile working for Cornwall Hospice Care.”  It occurred to me that for so many of us who are part of the Cornwall Hospice Care ‘family’ what we do is more than ‘just a job’.

Before I know it, my “day in the life” of two of our Truro shops has drawn to a close and it’s time for me to head home.  The day has flown by and I’ve learnt so much about what goes on behind the scenes of our shops, that I’m already wondering where my next day will take me!

Inspired by our shops “Day In The Life”?  Look at our current vacancies

Cornwall Hospice Care’s Dr Kirsty Scott writes as she travels home from the End of Life Conference – “What is best in the South West: sharing our innovative practice across the region.”

I’m on the train home from Taunton where I’ve been at the End of Life Conference – “What is best in the South West: sharing our innovative practice across the region.” I was asked to be part of this inspiring day by Gina King, Quality Improvement End of Life Lead South West Region, to present our work on Anticipatory Prescribing Guidance (APG). This project was led by Cornwall Hospice Care and involved partnership working with local providers in Cornwall, including RCHT and Peninsula Community Health (now Cornwall Foundation Trust), and was funded by a successful bid for a Health Education South West grant.

Collaboratively, we developed prescribing guidance for medicines to help control common symptoms patients may experience at the end of their lives. Through our education programme we trained nearly 1000 healthcare professionals in all care settings across Cornwall, including GPs, district nurses, acute and community hospital doctors, nurses and pharmacists and liaised with the South West Ambulance Service to incorporate this guidance into mandatory training for paramedics. As well as the symptom control guidance, we facilitated the healthcare professionals’ understanding of roles in delivering individualised care for patients who are dying and their families, including opening up discussions to find out, and act on, what matters most to patients.

Our project saw a significant increase in the knowledge of the healthcare professionals after the training and of those who used the guidance, 90% felt it had improved patients’ symptom control at the end of life. Those professionals have also told us that they feel more confident in their symptom management and in discussing and delivering individualised care to patients, and highly value the 24/7 Cornwall Hospice Care telephone advice line, which is available to all healthcare professionals.

Two years on from the end of our project, the APG is now firmly embedded in all healthcare settings across Cornwall. For this work we were delighted to be short-listed for the 2017 BMJ Palliative and Hospice Care award, but, most rewardingly of all, audits in Cornwall have shown a huge increase in the numbers of patients in the community, acute hospital and community hospitals who are now being prescribed the appropriate medicines to enable them to have good symptom control at the end of their lives.

It was a privilege to share our project with 100 delegates from all over the South West today. I hope they have been inspired by our project, as I was, in turn, by other innovative work being carried out in the region.

A blog by Megan O’Connell, Marketing and Promotions Officer at Cornwall Hospice Care.

On Friday 2nd February I spent the day working at our new Wadebridge Retro shop, (our new old shop). This was part of our PR and Communications team “A day in the life of…” project and I feel very privileged to have been at Wadebridge Retro’s birth.

I arrived at 9.45am (15 minutes late as when I calculated the time of my journey I didn’t add in the tractors). I met Tracy, Leanne and Justine as they prepped the shop for it’s 11am launch. I was so impressed with how amazing the shop looked!

My first task for the day was simple “please go to the Lifestyle shop and ask for some string to tie the balloons”. An easy start to my day in retail – off I went to the Lifestyle shop a few doors up to introduce myself to the staff and volunteers!

String gathered and I was on to my next task – a crate of donated CDs and a strip of £1.00 entertainment stickers. I had to open in each case and check it a) had a CD in and b) had the correct CD in! Christmas songs with Julie Andrews put aside I soon filled the CD display with albums from Mozart to Radiohead.

At 10.30am the van arrived with donated goods from the warehouse, a nest of tables, a small cabinet and boxes of bric-a-brac.

10.55am there’s a keen customer at the door, she knocks and I signal that we open in 5 minutes.

10.59am I’ve taken a photo of Tracy and Leanne smiling behind the till just before we open the doors to the public.

11.01am there are 5 customers already browsing in the shop! The lady who knocked likes a bag in the window display and 2 gentleman head straight for the vinyl’s and determinedly rummage through.

Customers browse through the shop for the rest of the day and I go out the back with Justine, the Business Development Manager that covers Wadebridge Retro and Lifestyle alongside 12 other Cornwall Hospice Care shops. We sort through several boxes of donated goods, cleaning vases, checking clocks are working and determine their value on the shop floor.

These four items have been donated by someone that has selected to Gift Aid. This means we can reclaim 25% of the sale price back from HMRC. So the £3.00 jug will actually be worth £3.75 to us when it sells.

I ask Tracy the manager of both Wadebridge Lifestyle and Wadebridge Retro how you know the value of a donated item and she tells me it comes with experience, instinct and sometimes google!

Audrey is by far the quirkiest find of the day, I’m as delicate as possible whilst tagging her in the hope it would prevent her from haunting me (she hasn’t!) and I let Justine value her because in all honesty I’m not sure what a person would pay for her… £3.50 is the answer if you’re wondering.

All the items are priced and back in boxes ready to go on the shop floor so I decided to take on the £20 challenge! This is a bit harder in the retro shop as there is a smaller range of clothes to choose from compared with our Community and Lifestyle shops but I absolutely love the outfit I put together for £10.50! And I also love the pink changing room!

I resisted temptation (this time) and put the clothes back on their hangers so they can find new homes but I did buy Tamsin, our Head of PR and Communications “The Little Book of Land Rover” to add to her collection.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day with the Wadebridge Retro team and look forward to my next ‘Day in the life of’.

Our St Austell Community Shop

Our 33 Cornwall Hospice Care shops give us a presence on the high street and help fund the care, but how much do we really know about what makes them tick? The PR & Communications team are determined to find out and on Tuesday began a weekly project to explore the world of retail, reporting on their visits on our social media channels. First out was Tamsin Thomas who spent the day working at the St Austell community shop in the town centre. This is her blog about the experience…

img

Our shops are like icebergs. There’s the bit you can see and then there’s the extremely busy teams behind the scenes keeping the shop floor freshly stocked. Many of them are volunteers and all of them are vital if the shop is to flourish and succeed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I reported for duty on Tuesday. It was a dull and damp day, typical for January, and I was hovering outside the shop nervous about the day ahead. Then the door bursts open and Tracey Preston, the Shop Manager, is welcoming me in and sending me to the unseen world above the store.   I’m busy straight away as one of our vans arrives and I’m carrying bags of donated goods in with Marcus and Steve. Every Monday Tracey, and sometimes Georgie Gunningham the Assistant Manager, spend time selecting suitable donated items at the Holmbush warehouse. These are then delivered to the shop’s back door the following morning.

img

Tracey is off to a meeting so Georgie shows me round the upstairs emporium where bags of spring and summer goods lie waiting to be sorted, “we get ahead of ourselves in winter so we can launch straight in to the summer range” explains Georgie, “and while that’s out we start preparing donated clothes for the next autumn and winter.”

Volunteers Ann and June open the shop and do the weekly stock take of the limited range of new goods while we start tagging donated clothes upstairs. I’m armed with a staple-like gun that attaches our price tags to the garments and I’m off, adding size details, tagging and hanging the items ready for steaming. Some carry a code that shows the donor has agreed to us claiming Gift Aid on the item, meaning for every £1 paid we can claim 25p back from the tax man, nice one!

Volunteers Helen and Eileen arrive, one to sort and price books and the other to take over the tagging duties. I move on to steaming. I find my ideal job. As the radio plays in the background and the team quietly chatter to each other, I’m left with my thoughts as I enjoy the soothing and rewarding work of turning a crumpled top into a smart and seemingly freshly laundered shirt. June comes in with the morning coffee round, a welcome interruption, and we all admire the wedding album of Georgie’s daughter. This is what being part of a friendly team is all about.

img

On the shop floor I team up with Ann who’s been volunteering for 10 years. She chats away to me and to the customers and I love her friendly style and her sense of humour. As I fold goods for customers, Ann is on the till and one is telling me, “I always come in once a week and pick something up.” Another carrying an armful of potential purchases, says “I was only going to pop in but now I’m going to try all these things on!” It’s not bustling, but there’s a steady flow of people browsing and chatting of course.

img

Back upstairs volunteer Lorraine arrives and I know her. She’s a WI member and I’ve met her at a talk, in fact she was President of St Stephens WI, and she’s been a Cornwall Hospice Care volunteer for five years. “My Brother-in-Law died at Mount Edgcumbe” she explains, “and after Nan Goldsworthy from the charity’s St Austell Fundraising Group asked me if I’d like to volunteer, I met Tracey who invited me in for a half day. I’ve never left!”

What strikes me is the easy friendship between all those who give time to this popular main street shop. They’re all genuinely pleased to see each other and fall in to comfortable conversation as they go about their work. I’m back on the steamer and meeting another of the volunteers, Frida. In a lilting Welsh accent she says “I love helping out and have been here for, is it two years now Georgie?” After confirmation of the time period, she continues “I visited the shop and thought how beautiful it was and said to the person on the desk I could work here and she said yes you can! And that’s where it all started. I come in once a week on a Tuesday and it’s a double whammy, I enjoy working here and it’s all for charity.”

Frida and I fall in to conversation about Wales, children, religion, travelling and much more besides. We move from the industrial sorting upstairs to the brightly lit shop floor where our conversations continue to flow and we take on the challenge to find a full outfit for under £20. When Georgie comes down the stairs I feel a bit like a naughty school girl knowing that between customers we’re trying on clothes and laughing a lot!

img

Suddenly it’s the end of the day and we’re cashing up. I express my surprise at how quickly the hours have gone by and am told that it’s like that every day. I’ve had a wonderful time and I’ve seen the rest of the iceberg, the well-rehearsed system that ensures the shop is always freshly stocked, that items are clearly priced and that customers are welcomed in.

I’ve come back to my office in the hospice with some great ideas to help customers understand the difference they make by visiting our St Austell community shop, and with a huge respect for the staff and volunteers who work constantly to turn the donated goods round. Oh and a love of steaming that I know will take me back to the bit of the iceberg others never see.

Why not visit our St Austell Community Shop?

This document is held under copyright by Hayward Group Ltd, publisher of the European Journal of Palliative Care. It may be downloaded for single academic use only. Reproduction for any other purpose is not allowed. For further information, please contact the journal by clicking here. 

 

 

Anna Broadbent was a fourth year medical student who spent time working on a research project with Cornwall Hospice Care’s Dr Jane Gibbins and the article has now been published in the European Journal of Palliative Care.

 

Jane’s Story

I didn’t have any concept of what a hospice was let alone an adult hospice, I’d not been in one before, but all that changed when I volunteered to help at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell. I found out very quickly what fantastic, peaceful places they are and now I look forward to my shifts.

It all began when I saw an advert in the local paper appealing for volunteers and I instantly thought well I could do that. I’d been a paediatric nurse and was later a Senior Sister at a Special Care Baby Unit where I’d spent a lot of time with parents and families. I’d also trained at Great Ormond Street Hospital so had developed what I see as valuable skills that could be useful in a hospice ward setting. I started in March last year (2016) and haven’t looked back.

My ward duties include clearing the breakfast things, sorting the flowers, ironing, ordering stores, serving morning coffee and tea, helping with the lunches and tidying up afterwards. I consider it my job to be honest, working most Mondays from 8.45am to 1pm and some Wednesdays. I get such a lift from knowing I’m helping the staff by taking on jobs they don’t need to be doing. I relieve the pressure for them so they can concentrate on the care. What’s more I feel very rewarded by the thanks of the staff and the families. I look forward to my shifts and I can honestly say I feel elated being part of the team here supporting patients from the age of 18 onwards, and their families.

I chose weekday volunteering as weekends are my time with my family and I also support ‘Shared Lives South West’, sharing my life and home with adults with learning disabilities. This includes respite care for dementia sufferers. We also have a small holding so I certainly keep busy.

It’s hard sometimes to see people in distress, especially if the patient is young, then it seems worse somehow, but equally a highlight for me was when the daughters of a Mum who was with us gave me special hugs to say thank you for being there and for listening to them. I used to be a Samaritan so have developed important listening skills that stand me in good stead.

I’ve gained such a valuable insight in to adult hospice care. A volunteer role like this isn’t for everyone, I understand that, but I get to help in such a lovely place where it’s light, bright and full of caring people who look after each other and value what you do when you’re there.

It’s inevitable that we are going to die but for those who come here, the environment is one of peace and dignity, which is wonderful. I’d encourage anyone to try volunteering in a role like mine as it’s so rewarding.

This week Dr Jane Gibbins took the long train ride to Manchester where she was one of the speakers at a conference about the provision of tuition for medical students. On the way home she put pen to paper to write a short blog about her day:  

I’m travelling back on the train from Manchester to Truro having spent the day at a combined General Medical Council (GMC) and Hospice UK event. The aims were two fold; to set the scene about the current provision of palliative care and end of life care teaching to medical students during their undergraduate training (as we know that this can be an overwhelming area of care for them when they start as newly qualified doctors), and to consider how we can improve this teaching in the future.

I was asked by Dr Bee Wee (National Clinical Director for End of Life Care) to present research from our national and small group of researchers. We have collaborated to obtain a clear picture of what Palliative Care teaching is taking place and where. The results show there is huge variability. Some medical schools provide extensive teaching programmes, while others provide very little. There was clear agreement that hands-on learning with patients and their families is the best possible type of learning, although this is not possible in all medical schools.

The discussions have enabled open reflection on what we provide for our future doctors at Cornwall Hospice Care in our partnership with Exeter Medical School. Medical students have weekly hands on clinical placements within both of our hospices, where they are able to overcome fears and misconceptions about what hospices do. They also experience a wide range of healthcare professionals all providing quality care to patients.

We are fortunate to be able to provide such meaningful experiences for our students. We know they rate this highly as they nominated our Palliative Care Team as the Best Clinical Teachers in 2017. This is a real achievement for the team and proof of the benefits our partnership provides.