Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust staff and volunteers undergo LGBT+ training from Derbyshire LGBT+ to support working towards their Rainbow Partnership Accreditation.

John from Derbyshire LGBT+ and Laura, HR manager at Blythe House Hospice

On Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st May 2024 hospice staff and volunteers from Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust had training sessions to help them achieve their goal of receiving their Rainbow Partnership Accreditation. John, from Derbyshire LGBT+, hosted training sessions to educate all staff and volunteers around terminology, hate crimes, the LGBT+ community, and more.

Staff and volunteers were very pleased with John’s training as it helped grow understanding to better support LGBT+. Laura Savile, HR Manager, says ‘It was a pleasure to welcome John into the hospice, the support and training provided was both extremely eye-opening and educational, but heartbreaking to hear the day-to-day struggles people face who are part of the LGBT+ community.

We here at Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust find it extremely important that anyone within our local communities feel welcomed in accessing our services and support. Therefore working towards becoming Rainbow Accredited means a great deal to us along with having all staff and volunteers educated in supporting everyone who needs us.

John, from Derbyshire LGBT+ said ‘The hospice staff engaged brilliantly with LGBT+ Awareness training, and they’ve had their own window decals created to highlight their commitment to achieving this. What an amazing, uplifting couple of days’

For more information, support, or advice please contact our HR Manager at Laura.Savile@blythehouse.co.uk.

Jo’s story

‘I just needed to speak about it for it to make sense, for me to be able to deal with it in my own head.’

Jo Johnson from New Mills was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2022, and for Jo this came at a time when she already had a huge amount to deal with. ‘On top of the ovarian cancer diagnosis I had a lot going on in my life. My dad was poorly, my mum had started with Alzheimer’s, my sister had cancer and my husband had ulcerative Colitis’

Jo Johnson and her husband

To further add to Jo’s worries, she had discovered she had the BRCA gene variant, and was anxiously waiting on test results to see if her daughter also had the gene variant, (Predictive genetic tests for cancer risk genes – NHS (www.nhs.uk) which greatly increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

As part of her treatment Jo, aged 57, underwent a full hysterectomy and had a stoma fitted at The Christie. She explained: ‘It was awful, I had such a lot on my plate and felt I needed some help – just to talk to someone about it all.

‘After my surgery The Christie put me in touch with Blythe House Hospice as one thing I needed was counselling to support me with everything that was going on.

‘I then got a phone call from Karen at Blythe House Hospice where she sat down with me and discussed everything that was offer for me at the hospice.’

Jo was able to access counselling, acupuncture, and physiotherapy services from the hospice to help support her through her diagnosis. ‘Counselling did help me an awful lot. We unfortunately lost my dad in October 2023 just as I started counselling. Having the counselling support from Blythe House Hospice helped me so much, it helped me talk stuff through and help process my feelings and emotions at such a difficult time.

‘I would definitely recommend it. It was having someone to talk to who doesn’t know what is going on and I didn’t feel bad about telling my story again. Sometimes people ask you how you are, and you think do you really what to listen this?

Jo Johnson and husband during her treatment

‘I just needed to speak about it for it to make sense, for me to be able to deal with it in my own head. You can get a completely different view when talking to someone else, and it gave me other ideas and support, maybe think about it this way, maybe try this. It is definitely something I would recommend.

Jo couldn’t speak highly enough of the team she has seen. ‘They have been fantastic, absolutely amazing they do a fantastic job.’

From the 13th to the 19th of May marks Mental Health Awareness Week, a significant time for reflection, support, and action. In 2024, the focal point is on movement and the positive impacts this can have on our mental well-being.

Life’s challenges often leave us feeling overwhelmed, which may lead to people feeling as thought they want to hide away indoors, away from the world. However, as the theme suggests, even the smallest movements can make a huge difference in supporting our mental health. It’s not about grand gestures; it’s about embracing manageable activities that uplift our spirits.

Here are some simple yet effective suggestions to incorporate movement into your daily routine:

  1. A Leisurely Stroll: Take a moment to step outside for a short, easy-level walk. This may be around your neighbourhood or a nearby park, staying active and setting yourself small challenges and goals supports you mental health in numerous ways.
  2. Household Movement: Sometimes, the best movements are those within the comfort of our own homes. Engage in light chores, rearrange your living space, or simply dance to your favourite music. Every movement counts towards improving your mood and overall well-being. A clean tidy environment can often make you feel less stressed, organised and have a clear head space.
  3. Social Interactions: Human connections play a crucial role in supporting mental health. Arrange to meet a friend for a coffee or a catch up with a loved one. Sharing experiences and laughter can provide a sense of belonging and emotional support.
  4. Nature Escapes: If possible, take a scenic drive to a nearby park or countryside. Nature can be incredibly therapeutic, offering moments of relaxation and reflection from life’s hustle and bustle.

Remember, the journey towards better mental health is a gradual process, and it’s essential to approach it with patience and self-compassion. Each day presents an opportunity to prioritize self-care and set achievable goals that align with your needs and capabilities. You’re not alone in this journey; reach out for support when needed and celebrate the progress, no matter how small.

We offer a counselling/psychotherapy service for hospice patients and carers who are experiencing emotional distress as a result of their own life-limiting illness or the illness of someone significant to them. We also bereavement support for carers, families and friends following the death of someone who received care from Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust .

For children and young people aged from 4 – 18 years old we offer counselling and bereavement services, which is open to anyone if their relative is accessing, or has accessed support from the hospice, or they have a parent or sibling that has a life-limiting illness, or has died.

Find out more about Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust counselling and bereavement services here.

Be sure to take each day as it comes, prioritize self-care, and set achievable goals for yourself. You’re not alone in this journey

From the 6th – 12th May we celebrate Dying Matters Awareness Week, where Hospice UK has decided upon the theme ‘the way we talk about Dying Matters.’

Volunteers working on the ‘Elephant In The Room’

To support this theme, Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust are speaking up about the importance of opening up those difficult conversations about death, dying, and bereavement.

To celebrate Dying Matters Awareness Week Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust have some exciting things going on around the Hospice. A team of wonderful volunteers have created an elephant out of chicken wire which will be placed at the hospice to encourage people to talk about the ‘Elephant in the Room.’

The elephant will over time be covered with luggage labels with words, messages or feelings which people within our local community have written around their experience of death, dying, or bereavement. This may be a message to someone they love who had died, how they are feeling themselves if they or someone they know is affected by a life-limiting illness, or more. The aim is to help open up those conversations that many people avoid.

Sarah, Community Engagement Officer at the hospice explains ‘It is extremely important that we try and break the silence when talking about death, dying, or bereavement. This is inevitable for us all, and having those conversations now helps our friends and loved ones around us know our wishes and needs for when we die.

It is important that we think and plan for the future as much as possible, whether it be writing your Will, planning your funeral, or simply telling those around you what you would like.’

 

Footsteps with Grief Walk

Emma Richards, Community Engagement Nurse, Liz , member of High Peak CVS, Louise Furmston, Community Engagement Lead Nurse.

Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust alongside High Peak CVS are hosting a Footsteps with Grief walk that is set to take place in Pavilion Garden, Buxton on Thursday 9th May from 10:30am – 11:30am.

The focus of this walk is to allow individuals affected by bereavement to go for an easy level walk and have the opportunity to talk to highly skilled bereavement support teams.

To book a place, please call: 01298 815 388 or email booking@blythehouse.co.uk

 

 

Death café

We warmly invite anyone within our community to join us on Friday 3rd May for our monthly coffee morning at Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust, Eccles Fold, Chapel-en-le-Frith.

This month’s coffee morning, in support of Dying Matters Awareness Week, will offer attendees the chance to discuss their concerns or challenges regarding conversations about death, dying, and bereavement with fellow community members and hospice staff. The ‘Elephant in the Room’ project will also be on display for those interested in contributing to the project.

Or simply pop along to enjoy a coffee and a cake to catch up with friends and support your local hospice, all are invited.

 

Stay connected on our social media channels!

Keep a look out on Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust social media channels, as there will be lots of information and support on how to open up those difficult conversations, how to be a good listener when talking to someone around death, and how to get organised before you die.

Death is something that many people choose not to talk about but it is something that will happen to us all, and it’s never too early to start having those conversations about your wishes to help ensure that your care needs are met.

Check out our soaicl media channels:

How to open up those difficult conversations about dying and why it matters💙

Getting organised before you die 💙

For more information, or support and advice call 01298 815 388

Bernard and his wife of three decades, Rhian, are accessing support from our Community Hub team following Rhian’s diagnosis with cervical cancer in 2021, and secondary liver cancer the following year.

Bernard, from New Mills, explained: ‘We were both incredibly anxious after Rhian’s diagnosis and treatment. I have a history of anxiety and depression, and it’s been a fairly tough few years. We moved in with my Mum just before the Covid lockdown as she was becoming increasingly frail, and at the same time we were having building work done on our house due to subsidence problems.

‘Sadly, Mum died in 2020 and it was a really difficult period. Mum had a massive stroke and my siblings could not visit the hospital due to ongoing Covid restrictions. It has been four or five years of emotional mayhem, culminating and continuing with Rhian’s cancer.

‘The Christie Hospital referred us to the hospice. We were aware of it beforehand through the high street shops, and seeing that an old friend, Mal, was doing some fundraising for the charity.’

Louise Furmston, community engagement lead nurse, met the couple and offered advice and support initially, before referring both Bernard and Rhian to counselling and complementary therapy services.

Bernard said: ‘We have both had reflexology which has been extremely beneficial. Allowing us to relax, ease stress and tension.

‘I’ve also had counselling sessions with Kate, which have given me a better focus on what’s going on and helped me to process everything. I knew the ins and outs of what was happening, but the sessions have allowed me to get my thoughts and worries under control.’

Bernard explained that although he had accessed counselling in the past at other places, it had been ineffectual and made him feel that how he felt was his own fault: ‘Here at the hospice, I was given the ability to say what I wanted. It was good seeing Kate as she listened to what I had to say, and between us we came up with a series of processes for getting myself through.

‘The counselling sessions have really helped me to think through how to deal with my anxiety. I still refer to the processes and practices that Kate gently guided me through, and I have been working on them continuously ever since.’

Rhian continues to see Louise Furmston on an ad-hoc basis and has also attended the building resilience and wellbeing course.

Find out more about our Community Hub, and counselling and bereavement services.

Dr Sarah Parnacott has hosted a clinic weekly at Blythe House since 2002 and has been a member of our board of trustees since 2018, chairing the hospice’s clinical committee.

Dr Parnacott, a consultant in palliative medicine, is employed by Chesterfield Royal Hospital, providing care to patients across the High Peak and surrounding communities.

After retiring from her consultant and medical director role at neighbouring Ashgate Hospice just before Christmas 2023, Dr Parnacott is still incredibly busy in her work life, hosting weekly palliative medicine* clinics and a twice monthly lymphoedema** clinic here at the hospice, and visiting patients in their homes who are unable to travel to Blythe House.

Dr Parnacott is a honorary lecturer at The University of Sheffield, teaching communications skills to fourth year medical students including having sensitive and difficult conversations relating to palliative and end of life care. She also spends time each week as a medical examiner at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, scrutinising the medical records of patients who have died and liaising with their doctors and relatives before a medical certificate for their cause of death is issued.

Sarah said: ‘I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a doctor. Back when I was at an all-girls’ school, it wasn’t something that was openly discussed or offered; I thought I might become a nurse or a radiographer. When I was 14 years old, it was my chemistry teacher who said I should investigate a career in medicine, and this piqued my interest.’

It was undertaking voluntary work during her late teens that inspired Sarah into a career in palliative medicine particularly. She explained: ‘I undertook voluntary work for Trafford social services, and it was here that I had my first real exposure to someone who was nearing end of life, a former serviceman, and his abysmal quality of end of life care. My piano teacher’s husband died soon after at St Ann’s Hospice in Greater Manchester and it was she who suggested that I went to have a look around. I met the consultant, matron and ward sister, and spent some time with them. I was surprised and delighted when I was offered a job as a healthcare assistant, and worked at the hospice that summer and all my university holidays for the first two years of my medical degree at Sheffield.’

Later, Dr Parnacott worked at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and St Ann’s Hospice before deciding to train in oncology in Sheffield. After two years, she realised that her heart lay in palliative care so switched registrar posts, acquiring her certificate of completion of specialty training in 2000. Sarah was appointed consultant in Chesterfield and took up the post in June 2002.

Sarah said: ‘I am committed to supporting my patients improve their quality of life, and to ensure that they can stay at home at the end of their life, if that is their wish. I get massive satisfaction from my job; I hope to improve a terrible situation for my patients by managing their painful, distressing, or unpleasant symptoms to ensure they are living their best quality of life.

‘I enjoy empowering patients to take control of their lives, giving them support to plan for their future and ensuring they have access to the right benefits, social care and health support during an incredibly overwhelming time in their lives. I hope to make situations the best I possibly can for my patients and their loved ones.’

Outside of her very busy work life, Sarah enjoys walking her dog, crafting and has recently taken up pottery.

*If you have an illness that cannot be cured, palliative care makes you as comfortable as possible by managing your pain and other distressing symptoms. Find out more.

** Secondary lymphoedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system or problems with the movement and drainage of fluid in the lymphatic system; it can be the result of a cancer treatment, an infection, injury, inflammation of the limb, or a lack of limb movement. Learn more.