Meet the team – Ruth Brown, Hospice at Home Manager

Since the Hospice at Home service’s inception in 2016, we have supported more than 300 people to die at home with their families and friends by their side. Our professional and compassionate healthcare assistants have delivered over 30,000 hours of day and night care.

Ruth Brown, Hospice at Home Manager, explains more about its initial set-up and how important the service is, in our rural community where home-based end of life care is so very much needed.

I have held the position of Hospice at Home Manager for over three years. My previous nursing background was firstly as a community healthcare assistant, then as a qualified nurse, district nurse and finally Community Matron, all with the NHS and predominantly within the community setting.

It was important to me to conclude my career using as many of my skills and attributes as possible, with my passion for good end-of-life care. My niece saw the advert for my current post and rang me to say that she had found me my perfect job, she knows me so well. I was overjoyed when successful; I believe Janet’s (Dunphy, CEO) ears are still ringing from my screams when offered the job!

A Hospice at Home service had been a dream for Blythe House Hospice following the legacy left by Stan Blythe 30 years ago. Reverend Betty Packham, the founder of the hospice, saw the beds in people’s homes as a solution to delivering quality end-of-life care in our community. We have brought dying back into people’s homes and into the community where it belongs, and for many patients where there is an expected death, a reduced likelihood of being hospitalised and their death medicalised. We enable many patients to come home from hospital or other inpatient units, to die at home if that is their choice.

In my previous roles, end-of-life care was my specialism; I worked with motivated professionals where values were shared and together we provided outstanding care. I believed that I could re-create a similar culture and philosophy here at Blythe House Hospicecare, and Janet shared my enthusiasm and passion for good end-of-life care. We made an instant connection in parallel-thinking and goal setting, a great deal of ground work had been done before I began; it was down to me to develop a team, build a service with high standards of care delivery and to promote our service in as many settings as possible, to imbed timely referral to our new service from GP practices, district nursing teams, hospitals and hospices.

If I am honest, I wasn’t sure how quickly we might grow and those first couple of weeks we held our breath but referrals came in, slowly at first but then more rapidly. We have now accepted 410 referral s and have recorded 303 deaths with 92% achieving death in their preferred place. We currently have 30 patients receiving care.

I must pay tribute to my colleagues Sam Hanley [Hospice at Home Co-ordinator] and Kathy Ashby [Hospice at Home Assistant], and the wonderful team of healthcare assistants who deliver this high quality service. They are respected and supported; in recent conversations they repeatedly talk of their love for the service and their privileged position. They appreciate the training and supervision we deliver to ensure we are a specialist service with gold standard outcomes.

We continually evaluate the service and receive wonderful comments from our patient’s families and friends.

It has been an amazing three years and the success of the service could only have been a dream in the beginning. I am very proud of what we have achieved together and can’t wait for the next stage of the journey in the hope of reaching every patient in the last year of life across the High Peak, and beyond that, to share and imbed our model of care across the county of Derbyshire.