Hospice at Home West Cumbria exists to ensure that the people of West Cumbria receive the best possible palliative and end of life care. It is a pioneering local charity founded in 1987 that was one of the first two organisations in the UK to provide a hospice at home service. Hospice at Home West Cumbria has continued to play a leading role in developing and setting the standards for this type of hospice care ever since. The charity’s objective is to provide the best possible palliative care to patients, to give help and support to their carers/loved ones, and to make its services available to everybody who needs them. All services are provided free of charge.
The home nursing service is the heart of the hospice’s work. It gives skilled nursing support on a one-to-one basis to adults who have an advanced illness in their own homes. The nurses provide respite care for patients and their families; they enable people to remain at home or to be discharged home from hospital if that is where they want to be at the end of their life. Home nursing is the thing that makes staying at home an option for many very ill people, and we know that the majority of people wish to be at home at the end of their life if that can become a realistic option.
The hospice aims to provide a comprehensive service for the dying, their carers and for the bereaved. In addition to the home nursing service Hospice at Home West Cumbria runs a Family Support Service and a Lymphoedema Service. Family Support offers specialised help to individuals and families both during a patient’s illness and afterwards to help cope with loss, grief and bereavement. A range of services are available, designed to help people cope with the distress that is associated with cancer and other illnesses that are progressive and unlikely to be cured. Support can be tailor made to meet an individual’s specific needs if necessary, and is delivered in people’s homes and at community locations across West Cumbria.
Lymphoedema is a swelling that occurs when there is a problem with someone’s lymphatic system and excess fluid builds up in parts of the body. It can be caused by the presence of some cancers, or by some cancer treatments, although there are other non-cancer related causes of lymphoedema. It can be an extremely distressing and debilitating condition. Treatment for lymphoedema isn’t available from the NHS in West Cumbria so Hospice at Home West Cumbria provides a service.
Hospice at Home West Cumbria is firmly rooted in the local community. The charity was founded by two West Cumbrian health professionals and is very grateful to local people for the support that enables it to continue its work and to develop the new services necessary to meet the local community’s changing needs. NHS funding covers around 25% of Hospice at Home West Cumbria’s costs; the remainder has to be raised by the charity from voluntary donations, trading, legacies and fundraising.