We may all have different perceptions of what a hospice is - and what it does. And it is almost universally associated with death and dying. Andrew Lowden, ellenor’s Operational Wellbeing Lead is eager to dispel this myth: “We don't just deal with the death side of things, we actually deal with getting the most out of life.”
When a patient is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, he believes they face two choices.
“You can either spend the rest of your life worrying about that illness and the effects that it will have on you and what the end of your life will look like. Or you come to a place where we'll talk it through and help you to cope with whatever life throws at you, over whatever time it throws it at you.”
More than physical
Although the adult and children’s services teams provide clinical support, the Wellbeing Team is focused on helping people with life-limiting illnesses make the best of the time they have left.
While the basics of clinical care are important for those living with life-limiting illnesses, for patients these are sometimes not the primary priority, and it’s the non-clinical support that we provide that make the greatest difference to these people, Andrew believes.
The reality, he says, is that patients become used to the clinical aspects of living with their condition and these are often managed by ensuring sufficient pain relief or managing medication side effects. “Clinical is the stuff that the doctors and nurses do, we do everything else besides that. We enable people to live with a life limiting illness by providing health, happiness and contentment, because that's what wellbeing is. And we do that through offering psycho-social support” he explains.
Patients worry about their finances, who will look after their family and their pets when they are gone and why this has happened to them. “It's this that keeps people awake at night,“ says Andrew. “It’s the bigger life and universe questions that I think come up as a result of knowing that your time on this earth is now very limited.”
Although support for various aspects of the total care package are available through the NHS or other organisations, we provide it all. “Name me an agency that will do those things for you?” questions Andrew. “You won't find an agency that looks at the whole of you and says: "Right, let's tease all of this apart and see what it is that keeps you awake at night. What's stopping you leaving this planet feeling much more comfortable than you do at the moment? And that’s where Wellbeing comes in.”
A wide range of services
Andrew’s team focuses on seven areas of wellbeing support:
- Counselling via our dedicated counsellors
- Family support
- Complementary therapies, e.g. aromatherapy, reflexology, Reiki, massage and mindfulness
- Clinical Therapies – Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy
- Living Well – our day services
“A huge part of this is the psychological support, which is about helping you to feel as well as you can possibly feel. All of those services will help you to feel better about money, they'll help your family to feel less stressed and give you permission to talk to your family about what's worrying you. They will help you to relax more through massage and reflexology. So the counselling will not only help you the patient but will also see your family through your illness and beyond, into bereavement as well,” he elaborates.