An MP has hailed the remarkable recovery of a North Wales hospice which was facing closure during the recession.
David Jones, the MP for Clwyd West, was blown away by the survival story of St Kentigern Hospice when he was told about it during a visit.
The hospice was on the verge of shutting its doors four years ago.
It turned things round by developing a pioneering nurse-led model which has been so successful that it’s attracting interest from across the UK and the globe.
The innovative palliative care model is thought to be the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
It has also attracted praise from Dr Heather Richardson, National Clinical Lead for the UK-wide Help the Hospices, who believes this ground-breaking model could be rolled out across Britain.
Dinah Hickish, the Senior Advanced Nurse Practitioner at St Kentigern Hospice is spearheading the initiative. She was honoured with a gold award at the social care Oscars, the Wales Care Awards.
St Kentigern is an eight-bed in patient hospice which has 15-place day therapy facilities and provides “excellent” end of life care for those with life-threatening and terminal illness, but has to rely on 80 per cent of its income from the generous donations of the public.
Mr Jones said: “The hospice had a difficult time a few years ago, and now they have developed this model which is being regarded as an exemplar across the country.
“It was an absolute pleasure to meet with Ian Bellingham the Chief Executive, Trefor Jones the Chairman, and Dinah Hickish the Senior Nurse. What they are doing is very impressive.”
Mr Jones also praised St Kentigern’s 500-strong army of volunteers.
He said: “They have over 500 volunteers and I think that underlines the community spirit of the area.
“They also have an innovative network of charity shops. I’m pleased to do what I can to help them.
“All hospices are uplifting places and St Kentigern is a prime example of that. The atmosphere is warm, tranquil and calming.
“It’s not just the patients they help at St Kentigern, but their families. It’s a very traumatic experience for the family when a loved one has a terminal illness, and they have a drop in facility here where people can come in for a cup of tea and to talk to someone. Dinah said that people experience what they call the hospice hug.”
St Kentigern Chief Executive Ian Bellingham, thanked Mr Jones for his support.
He said: “I welcome the support that he has given us, and he has kindly offered to help us in the future.
“We spoke about our financial recovery because four years ago we were on our knees. Now we have rebuilt, are stronger than ever and even have plans of expanding the service. Trefor Jones was brought in as the Chair and he’s helped us turn things around, and now we’re thriving.
“We explained our innovative nurse-led model, and talked about all the different things we’re doing like our fundraising, our shops, our day therapies, our new learning zone and our advice line.”
The new learning zone at a hospice is the first of its kind in Wales.
The education facility enables nurses and care practitioners from the independent sector particularly to learn the best ways to provide the best possible care for patients.
The zone includes a laptop, a printer, wifi access, academic journals and books, and it will also be available for the wider community to use.
A ground-breaking helpline for nursing home patients needing palliative care has been introduced at St Kentigern.
The scheme, developed with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Care Forum Wales, aims to reduce the number of people being taken to A & E and being admitted to Glan Clwyd Hospital when they don’t need to be.
The service is not only for the hospital but also for staff at the homes who did not have the specialist knowledge of palliative care as the hospice’s nurses.
Mum of four and grandmother of one Dinah, 53, who lives in Tremeirchion, explained the nurse-led model.
She said: “The role of the Advanced Nurse Practitioner was created over a decade ago and allows nurses to do many of the tasks that their medical colleagues do.
“I can admit patients, clinically assess them, initiate a programme of care and as a non-medical prescriber I can prescribe the treatments necessary for them.
“There are a lot of hospices that are employing Advanced Nurse Practitioners, now. That is happening more and more, but we’re pretty unique at the moment because we’re nurse-led.
“Interestingly, perhaps because we are all nurses working together in the inpatient unit the amount of patients we look after is much greater, than under the previous model. Our bed occupancy is actually much higher than it was when we were run by a medical director.”
For more information about the hospice and how to make a donation go to www.stkentigernhospice.org.uk