Throughout this week (11-17 May 2020), Blythe House Hospicecare is commemorating Dying Matters Awareness Week, and inviting you to open up and start the conversation about death and dying.

Dying Matters explains: ‘Talking about death doesn’t bring death closer. It’s about planning for life, helping us make the most of the time that we have. However, starting the conversation, particularly with those close to you, is never easy. We don’t want to upset people, or sound gloomy. Still, families commonly report that it comes as a relief once the subject is brought out into the open.’

Now, more than ever, it is important for us to have these discussions with our loved ones. Subjects you might like to talk about include:

  • The type of care you’d like towards the end of your life
  • Where you’d like to die
  • Funeral arrangements
  • Your will
  • What you’d like people to know before you die

Janet Dunphy, Blythe House CEO, says: ‘It is a good time to have those sensitive and really important conversations about what matters…’

Watch Janet’s video now:

Throughout the current situation, our hospice team is providing advice and support to hundreds of local patients and carers about the COVID-19 pandemic. Louise Furmston, our community engagement manager, explained: ‘The current situation has heightened issues around dying. We have seen a definite increase in isolation and losses, compounded by coronavirus. Patients and carers are feeling overwhelmed and are finding it difficult with the loss of 1:1, face-to-face support at the hospice. We have been there to advise local people with questions including about end of life concerns.’ Find out more.

Many people have turned to arts and crafts to occupy their mind over the last few months. This Dying Matters Awareness Week, we have thought about a number of creative ideas you could set your mind to, to keep busy and help you to think about death, dying and bereavement:

  • Create your own, mini ‘before I die’ board.
  • Why not stitch, knit or sew a heart or rainbow to let someone know you’re thinking of them and you are there if they need to chat. Download a free rainbow of hope pattern.
  • Have a go at designing your own coffin! Perhaps you don’t want a standard wooden box – maybe you’d like it to be bright yellow, or painted with seaside huts as a reminder of your favourite holiday destination! You might like a different material like wicker or bamboo! Whatever your ideas, get them down on paper and share them with your family.
  • For hundreds of ideas around getting creative to support grief and bereavement, including painting rocks, making a memory lantern and creating a remembering ornament, visit Pinterest.

Find lots of helpful resources including leaflets about supporting bereavement; talking about dying; and things to do before you die, on the Dying Matters website.

A nighttime walk organised to raise vital funds for hospice care in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales is set to get the whole community glowing when it returns next year.

Our Glow Twilight Walk was due to take place on Saturday 18th July 2020, but following recent Government measures, and in times of such unprecedented uncertainty, this year’s walk is being postponed.

The hospice has worked with event partners and the venue over the last few weeks, and is delighted to announce a new date for the 10k event: Saturday 15th May 2021.

Janet Dunphy, Blythe House Hospicecare CEO, said: ‘Obviously this is not the decision we wanted to make about our fantastic Glow Twilight Walk. The event in 2019 was our first ever, seeing hundreds of people don fancy dress and glow sticks to light up the night in Buxton and raise over £20,725 for hospice care and services.

‘We were incredibly excited to host the second annual event this July, and though we are optimistic that the situation in the UK will have improved by then, we are no longer able to spend the coming weeks working closely with event partners, volunteers, suppliers and of course our dedicated hospice supporters, making the Glow Twilight Walk a reality.

‘We sincerely hope everyone will come together to join us on Saturday 15th May next year, to get their glow on and have a fantastic time with loved ones whilst raising money for end of life and palliative care here in our local community.’

If you have already registered for this year’s Glow Twilight Walk, your place will be transferred automatically to the new date in May 2021. If you cannot make the new date, you would like a refund, or if you have any queries, please email: events@blythehouse.co.uk.

Blythe House Hospicecare healthcare assistants continue to support palliative and end of life patients in the local community during the ongoing COVID-19 situation. If you would like to make a donation to support hospice services throughout this time, please visit our donation page.

Follow Blythe House on social media to stay up to date on when registration for next year’s Glow Twilight Walk will open:

The coronavirus pandemic is understandably leaving many of us feeling worried and anxious about the future. We have put together this web page to collate helpful advice and information about looking after yourself and your mental well-being during this uncertain time. It will be updated regularly with new content, and we hope that you find it helpful.

Linda Brady, one of our counsellors, has recorded some simple meditation practices which you can enjoy in your own time.

  • The first is a three minute breathing exercise
  • The second is a meditation for feeling as safe as you reasonably can
  • The third is a grounding exercise that you may find useful

Linda has taken the time to share some ideas to help you stay connected throughout this time. She explained: ‘We know many of you will be missing the physical connection between you and your family and friends – that face-to-face contact that we often take for granted.’ Read Linda’s advice now.

Linda has also highlighted support available from Action for Happiness. She said: ‘They produce monthly “coping calendars” which suggest actions that we can take to look after ourselves and each other. You can sign up to get each month’s calendar sent to you. There’s also an app for mobile phones that might be helpful.’ Visit the website to find out more.

Ann Burgoyne, who usually runs a weekly mindfulness meditation class at Blythe House, got in touch to offer a breathing practice called the ‘3 minute breathing space.’ She explained: ‘It uses a short acronym AGE to help remember how it goes. We use this sometimes to start our Wednesday evening meditation group at Blythe House.’

Pause whatever you are doing, eyes can be open or closed…

  • 1st Minute – A – Become Aware of the activity of the mind (thoughts, thinking, etc.), feelings and sensations in the body
  • 2nd Minute – G – Gather the awareness in to rest on your breathing and each breath as it happens
  • 3rd Minute – E – Expand your awareness out to notice the whole body and the space around your body.

‘Notice how you are at the end of the practice and if you feel you need to calm a little more simply rest your awareness on the next three breaths, breathing right to the end of each of the outbreaths. At the end of the third outbreath, let go and allow the breathing to gently settle back into it’s natural rhythm and move into the rest of your day. Do this as openly as you need or wish through the day.’

  • The Wellness Society have published a free Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook to help manage stress and anxiety during this period of global uncertainty. Download it for free now.
  • There are lots of free meditations readily available on YouTube to help support anxiety, worry or stress. Search here.
  • The Mindfulness Association is currently offering a free daily online meditation, 7pm-7.30pm, followed by a chat until 8pm. It’s a great way of getting a sense of connection to others.
  • Two well-known apps Headspace and Calm are both offering free content at the moment including meditations, soothing music, sleep exercise and stories.
  • Look out for online exercise classes that are being offered by personal trainers and gyms – including yoga, Pilates or more intensive workouts.
  • Enjoy a walk in the fresh air, whilst practicing social distancing.
  • Turning a mountain into hills – a useful article by Charlotte Walker who considers what she can and cannot control throughout the pandemic, and explains: ‘I hope it inspires you to think about your own mountain and how you could come up with your own version of more manageable hills.’
  • Tolerating uncertainty – by Carol Vivyan’s may be useful. She explains: ‘When we are anxious, we tend to over-estimate the danger, and the odds, of bad things happening, and we under-estimate our ability to cope if or when those bad things happen. Even if the odds are really small that a bad thing will happen, that tiny chance is enough to really upset us. We call it “intolerance of uncertainty”.’
  • Coronavirus: How to look after your self-care in these uncertain times – a very useful article from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
  • Mind have information on their website if you are worried about coronavirus and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoid other people. Find out more.
  • Helpful content including videos about emotional health and well-being during this time, from Derbyshire County Council.
  • Catherine Serjeant, art therapy coordinator, said: ‘The arts are a wonderful solace in times of trouble. So many times, I have heard people say how you forget all your troubles while being absorbed with crafts and arts. Now every morning I’m absorbed with an pictorial diary. I’m painting, drawing, collaging, writing.  You don’t have to be brilliant at it, just have a go and learn to laugh at yourself. How about keeping a diary of all the cooking and eating you’re doing including drawing or painting, crayoning, printing. If you find your taste buds have gone or you’re not feeling like eating, write or draw your frustrations… ‘the Frustration Monster!’ The ‘What If Monster’ is another idea to portray. It could perhaps be a 3D structure! Use stuff out of your garage or shed. Keep a scrapbook. Weave a wall hanging. Print with potatoes or just let your pencil have a wonderful doodle!’
  • Future Learn has courses available to help you manage your own mental health and support others who are struggling during this time. Find out more.

Other helpful articles:

Blythe House Hospicecare is increasing the level of community care to support the most vulnerable people as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The hospice is providing 24/7 end of life care in the comfort of patient’s homes. In addition, a team of hospice staff and volunteers is posting ‘kindness cards’ to let people know about support including shopping, prescription pick-ups, telephone chats and food parcels.

Nurses, counsellors and healthcare assistants are also on-hand to provide telephone support to all patients and their families.

Janet Dunphy, CEO, said: ‘Our community have supported us to develop to meet the increasing needs of people in the High Peak, and this is payback time, we will be there for them even more now. We are stronger together.

‘The well-being of the people we support, hospice visitors, staff and volunteers is our first priority and that’s why we are following advice and guidance issued by Public Health England and the UK Government.

‘At the present time, we are taking each day as it comes with regards to the ongoing situation. We have taken on-board Government advice and have made decisions to implement some changes to services whilst continuing to support the most isolated and vulnerable people in our local area.’

All non-essential meetings and sessions at the hospice or in the local community have been cancelled for the time being including coffee mornings; out-patient clinics; weekly support groups and walking for health sessions.

The hospice’s four chairty shops in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Buxton, New Mills and Whaley Bridge are all closed.

Janet added: ‘We are liaising closely with our event sponsors and co-organisers to determine what will happen to future fundraising events. National events that our supporters are involved in, like the London Marathon, have already been postponed. We will keep members of the public updated as soon as we have details of the plans going forward.’

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated due to the current situation, or you’d like to find out more about support from Blythe House, please contact Vicci Wild or Julie Forrest on 01298 816990.

Find out more via our dedicated coronavirus webpage.

Heading out to do some shopping or run errands over the coming weeks, you might notice some new faces that crop up regularly in shops and businesses across the High Peak and Hope Valley.

Blythe House Hospicecare is delighted to launch its new fundraising collection pots, displaying the beaming faces of dedicated hospice supporters.

More than 170 collection pots are dispersed across the community in places like banks, shops, cafés, pubs and companies, with members of the public donating spare change to help support their local hospice.

The generosity of local people, and the businesses that are proud to display Blythe House collection pots, helped the hospice to raise over £10,800 throughout 2018/19.

All these donations enable the Chapel-en-le-Frith hospice to continue to provide free care and services to local patients with illnesses including cancer, motor neurone disease, heart failure, COPD and Parkinson’s, as well as their carers and families.

Sally and Ben

Ben Hinchliffe fought cancer for much of his life including having leukaemia as a child before being diagnosed with bowel cancer. The former Frome resident moved to Chapel-en-le-Frith with his family in April 2017 and soon after started to access the services at Blythe House.

The passionate fundraiser had previously been actively involved in raising money for the cancer care centre at Royal United Hospitals in Bath, were he underwent treatment; he would volunteer alongside his mum, Sally to collect fundraising pots from local shops and businesses.

Ben was keen to be busy and always wanted to support Blythe House. He secured a job with the High Peak Food Bank through Zink Employability as a direct result of coming to the hospice.

‘He always felt at home at Blythe House; he gained an awful lot from coming here. When another shock hit him, he’d say “I’m going to Blythe!”’ explained Sally.

‘Ben had secured an apprenticeship role at a quarry in Bradwell through Zink, but sadly a week after accepting it, he had to tell them that he was no longer able to undertake the role as he was re-diagnosed with bowel cancer.’

Ben’s dad, Peter added: ‘He never said he would not get better – he always said: “I’ve done this before and I’ll do it again!”’

Sally said: ‘Ben tragically passed away in November 2018, aged just 36 years old. Blythe House continues to provide ongoing support to me and the rest of the family who’re still coming to terms with our loss.

‘Ben would’ve absolutely loved being the “face” of the Blythe House collection pots – he would’ve been honoured to have been asked. It is very ironic that we used to volunteer our time to collect fundraising pots when he was younger, and now his legacy lives on as he’ll actually be printed on the pots here in the High Peak!’

Collette and Kenzie

A good friend of Ben’s during his time in the Living Well service was fellow Chapel-en-le-Frith resident, Collette Russell. The 30-year-old who moved to the town from Fairfield, Buxton, started to attend Blythe House in April 2018, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Collette, who has a 10-year-old son called Kenzie, said: ‘I visited the doctor several times from December 2014 to March the following year with different symptoms including a nasty cough and just generally feeling unwell. In July, I discovered a lump under my armpit so went to the GP again, where I was told it was a cyst that would just go away.

‘In October, in my role as a carer at a local nursing home, I was kicked in the stomach by a resident. It wasn’t a malicious kick, but I was in pain and was referred to Stepping Hill Hospital as I had a very high heart rate and temperature. Over the coming days, I underwent X-Rays and CT scans, before hospital doctors confirmed that I had a mediastinal mass in my chest [growths that form in the area that separates the lungs].

‘I underwent further tests including bone marrow and lymph node biopsies, as well as having four blood transfusions. On the 27th November 2015, I was told that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was transferred to The Christie Hospital where I underwent scans and started chemotherapy. In May 2016, I finished chemo and underwent a PET [Positron emission tomography] scan where no cancerous activity was found! I had some radiotherapy, and on 27th July 2016, exactly eight months since I was diagnosed with cancer; I rang the bell at The Christie for finishing all my treatment!

‘I went straight back to work being a full-time carer; I never really had time to think about what I’d been through, and just started back into “normal” life. But on the second anniversary of my diagnosis in October 2017, I felt so upset and desperately low. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with severe depression; they also referred me to Blythe House.

‘At first I didn’t want to come here; I thought it was a hospice building full of old people who were dying. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. Here I have sought advice and support, and made friends for life; they are like my second family. It doesn’t matter what age people are – they range from their 30s to their 90s – we are all the very best of friends! Everyone has helped me through this really difficult time in my life; we can be ourselves here, we laugh and we can cry too. I took part in the Writing for Life group to put the words in my head down on paper about my illness, and the group still regularly meets up outside of the hospice to catch up and offer each other support.

‘I have also enjoyed complementary therapies to help me feel better in myself. I now suffer with vitiligo as a result of receiving chemotherapy; I am receiving counselling at Blythe House to come to terms with this; every time I look in the mirror at myself, there’s a constant reminder that I had cancer.

‘I was inspired by the beauty therapists at Blythe House to become one myself, to be able to offer treatments and therapies to people in similar situations. I started a course at the University of Derby in Buxton in September 2019, and hope to be able to come to Blythe House when I’m qualified to be able to treat the patients.

The Tollertons’

‘The nurses nominated me to be the “face of” the collection pots; I was so pleased! It’s bittersweet because Ben and I got on so, so well. I was so low when he died. He really understood what I went through – but he was never phased by illness – he’d always say “I’m going to fight it!” I’m really proud to be on the collection pots alongside Ben. It’s my way of being able to give just a little something back to Blythe House for all it has done for me.’

Rebecca and Mark Tollerton, and their children, Amelia and George, from Dove Holes also feature on the new collection pots. Read their Blythe House story.

Keith and Margaret

Keith Bolton accessed hospice services for his wife, Margaret after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Keith and Margaret, from Glossop, also have a photo displayed on the new pots. Read their story.

If you would like to house a Blythe House collection box in your shop or local business, please call: 01298 815 388 or email: fundraising@blythehouse.co.uk

Our community volunteer programme, described as ‘gentle, invaluable and amazing,’ is seeking local people who would like to support patients in the comfort of their own home.

The service provides practical and emotional support in the homes of local patients who have life-limiting illnesses including cancer, COPD, heart failure and neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease.

After completing comprehensive training, community volunteers are able to provide help and support to patients and their families including respite breaks, companionship, light household chores and gardening. The current team of 22 volunteers donated over 400 hours of support between October and December 2019.

Alison Dronfield-Boyd (left) from Buxton became a community volunteer in June last year after retiring early. She has been offering help to a local patient who has motor neurone disease, and said: ‘I support with a variety of things including improving accessibility to make life easier, for example, moving items in the kitchen to a lower level. I have ironed clothes, as this is something that the individual can no longer carry out. I have also walked the dog and carried out gardening tasks. The main thing during all this is the companionship; we chat and enjoy each other’s company.

‘The community volunteer programme is a massive support to people who need it and is extremely personally rewarding. It’s the best thing I have ever done with my time; I would say that even the smallest amount of time that can be provided is very much appreciated.’

A volunteer supports Bill with respite care at his home in Chapel-en-le-Frith so that his wife of over 60 years, Marina is able to go out. She said: ‘Jon comes round for two hours each week to chat to Bill and keep him company whilst I go shopping or meet up with a friend. People don’t realise how hard it is to not be able to go out when you want, or need to. Before the community volunteer programme, I very much relied on my daughters who are wonderful but only come round when they can, as they are both at work. With booking in scheduled visits from Jon, I have something to look forward to each week, and know that Bill is so well cared for when I am gone. We are so grateful to Jon for giving up his time to support us.’

To find out more about community volunteering at Blythe House, including a new training programme due to get underway next month, you can:

Updated 17.11.2020

At Blythe House, the well-being of the people we support, hospice visitors, staff and volunteers is our first priority and that’s why we are following advice and guidance issued by Public Health England and the UK Government.

During the second COVID-19 lockdown, Blythe House Hospicecare continues to provides free care and services to people across the High Peak and Hope Valley. Our compassionate and expert staff are on hand to provide COVID-secure:

  • 24/7 palliative and end of life care for patients in their own home
  • Shopping and prescription deliveries; telephone chats; transport to/from medical appointments; walking pets
  • Support after diagnosis, living with your condition, symptom management, planning for end of life care, changes to treatment plans, understanding the current healthcare system, isolation, confusion and loneliness, physical therapies, mental health and well-being
  • Counselling and bereavement sessions for adults and children. (referral criteria may apply)

Please call: 01298 815 388.

Please email: bhh.referrals@nhs.net 

A huge THANK YOU to all of our amazing volunteers and supporters who continue to show such resilience in the face of uncertain times.

From close of business on Wednesday 4th November, our hospice charity shops in Buxton, Whaley Bridge, Chapel-en-le-Frith and New Mills will be CLOSED until further notice. For full details, please refer to our dedicated shops page.

Useful documents and information:

Take care and stay safe.

Blythe House Bulletin is now available to read online, featuring news and info about the hospice’s care and services, and our upcoming events.

 

The reception, porch and a bathroom area at Blythe House Hospicecare are set to undergo a major transformation to ensure the building is accessible to all visitors.

The hospice is delighted to be working alongside CRASH, a national charity that is supporting the project by drawing on the professional skills, materials and financial generosity of the construction industry.

CRASH has also very kindly donated £30,000 towards the revamp, with the remaining costs coming from trusts and grants applied for by the hospice’s fundraising team.

Ongoing, fundamental support is also coming from local industry professionals including quantity surveyor, Gavin Garner of WCP Associates; Claire Wilde and Jemma Slater from SlaterWilde Architects and Designers; and Terry Ward, formerly of WMA Developments.

Janet Dunphy, CEO, said: ‘Blythe House celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019 and the hospice has come a very long way in those three decades. As our services have grown and developed, what was once an adequate, welcoming space is now unfortunately not fit-for-purpose to meet the growing needs of our local community.

‘As a small hospice we need to ensure that all of our space is being used to its full potential and we have recognised that at present, there are a number of changes needed to ensure we are running effectively, meeting the demand of services and supporting our patients.

‘As you can imagine, at busy times and periods, the reception area can be very crowded and does not offer easy access to our Living Well service, or any kind of privacy for patients and visitors. The revamp will ensure it is made fully accessible to all patients, and will allow for privacy when visitors are waiting for appointments or meetings.

‘We are incredibly proud to be working alongside exceedingly talented, knowledgeable and dedicated representatives from CRASH and our local community – and we can’t wait to see the amazing revamped area later this year!’

Construction is set to get underway in mid-February 2020, continuing until around March. The hospice is working hard to ensure that disruption to services is kept to a minimum.

As mentioned previously, popular monthly coffee mornings will not take place throughout the refurb process due to access issues. Our next coffee morning is set to take place from 10am to 1pm on Friday 17th January at Alderbrook Day Centre, Buxton Road, Chinley, SK23 6ES.

Further updates about the refurbishment will be available in the coming weeks, so please stay up to date via our website and social media channels.