Loved ones praise community nursing service which is at risk from funding shortfall
Families and loved ones of patients cared for in the community by the St Catherine’s Hospice Clinical Nurse Specialist team have voiced their upset and frustration that the vital service could close because of a funding shortfall from the NHS.
St Catherine’s in Lostock Hall is a local charity that has to fundraise 74 per cent of its £5m running costs every year because it receives a smaller than average grant from the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. On average, adult hospices receive 34 per cent of their costs from the NHS, compared to the 26 per cent St Catherine’s receives. It means the hospice is working with a shortfall of approximately £400,000 each year compared to other hospices of a similar size.
The funding gap is putting the St Catherine’s Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) team, who care for more than 200 patients in their own homes at any one time, at risk. By providing specialised pain and symptom management and psychological support, the nurses help people to have a better quality of life and to achieve their wishes to remain at home.
Kathleen Quiqley, from Longton, received the support of the team when caring for a close family friend, Father Peter Robertson, after he was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.
She said: “Peter was a family friend of 45 years – we were closer than close, he was a very special person. When he received the news, we brought him to live with us, to look after him and keep him safe.
“I knew I wanted to be there for him, but at that time I didn’t know how I was going to do that. It was a very steep learning curve and without Tracy, our Clinical Nurse Specialist who came to visit within two days of Peter arriving, I don’t know what we would have done.”
Kathleen said the CNS team had helped with all aspects of Father Peter’s condition. “Tracy never left us with any questions unanswered,” she said. “She stayed with us until we understood and made sure we had the support we needed to be able to give Peter the best possible care. Whenever she had been to visit, we always felt better.
“Because of the support we got, Peter was able to stay at home with us, and to die at home with us. To think that in the future we could be without this vital service is beyond belief. It seems that by failing to fund it, the NHS is shooting itself in the foot because it would cost them much more in hospital costs anyway. I cannot praise the team enough and they have my support 100 per cent.”
Tracey Nolan and Aimee Smith also received help and support from the CNS team when Tracy’s sister-in-law and Aimee’s mother-in-law-to-be Sonja Oliver was diagnosed with a brain tumour last April, aged just 50. In June, Sonja moved into Tracey and husband Brian’s home in Charnock Richard – the same house which had been Sonja and Brian’s when they were growing up.
Tracey explained: “It was very important for her to come back to her family home and for her to die at home – in familiar surroundings, with the people she loved around her. Without the support of the CNS team, this wouldn’t have been possible. It is such a comfort now to know that we helped her to achieve what she wanted at that most poignant time in her life.”
Tracey said the support had covered everything from help organising the equipment they needed and explaining medication to having a chat about how they each were feeling.
She added: “We always knew if there was a problem or we had a question then they were only at the other end of the phone.
“We had never been in a situation like this before – Linda, our CNS, helped make the transition from ‘every-day life’ to caring for Sonja so much easier. I believe the funding should be made available to continue this service so that other people have access to the same support network that we did. Surely it must be better for people to be able to stay at home rather than being in hospital? For both the families affected and the NHS.”
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