BY TOBY PORTER
A trailblazing hospice has launched an appeal to raise £200,000 to train families of sick relatives to look after their loved ones at home.
St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham wants to fit-out and start running a planned specialised, training skills lab for people at its new education building and has launched the appeal in Hospice Care Week.
The skills lab will be a space in which the people of South-east London who want to look after someone who is nearing the end of their life at home can learn practical skills to support them.
The aim is to make caring for someone at home less stressful and to enable good care to be more available to everyone.
The number of people looking after a loved one at home will increase to more than nine million in the next 20 years.
This will allow the hospice to triple the number of carers, patients and families taught each year to more than 2,000 by 2022.
Many carers don’t feel they have the knowledge or confidence to do this well, despite wanting to.
Innovative sessions at the hospice’s new purpose-built education centre, the learning hub, will provide coaching, information and support to families and carers, building the skills and confidence they need to give essential care at home.
Liz Bryan, director of education and training at St Christopher’s Hospice, said: “When we care for someone, we see them as an individual but also that they belong to social networks such as friends, family and community groups, who often want to play their part in looking after someone at the end of life but don’t always know how.
“Our new skills lab will give local people the confidence that they can provide straightforward care for their loved ones.
“We will focus on sharing skills such as how to wash and feed someone safely, and how to recognise and manage common symptoms at home.
This means that with our support, many more dying people can choose to remain at home, where they feel comfortable and safe, for as long as possible.
It’s all about living life well, even at the end of life.” The £200,000 fundraising goal will fit-out the skills lab teaching zone with practical equipment and support training sessions to share skills with members of the public for the first time, not just professionals involved in end-of-life care.
The money raised will also furnish an open community space in its new, purpose built education centre in Sydenham, where local groups can host meetings, students can visit to study or members of the public can pop in for a coffee and see the difference that their donation has made to the thousands of people the hospice is able to train.
The hospice has already raised £6.2 million to build the learning hub structure, from donations from individuals as well as grant and trust-giving organisations, but it is asking the public to get behind the very final stages of the project which will become a true resource for the community.
Diane Roberts, from Dulwich, who is caring for her mother with the help of St Christopher’s, said: “At 90, my mum has advanced dementia and is very frail.
However, the mum that I’ve known for 67 years is still in there and it’s crucial that in this really challenging stage in her life she is cared for at home by people who love her.
“St Christopher’s makes this a genuine option by providing support and allowing me to feel competent in my caring role.”
To help St Christopher’s support carers in the community text the word HOSPICE to 70500 to donate £5.
Alternatively to find out more or donate visit: www.stchristophers.org. uk/learninghubcampaign.