Hospice experienced ‘year like no other’ but emerges stronger and even more focussed

GWENT-based St David’s Hospice Care is stronger and as committed as ever to deliver excellence after experiencing a year like no other, its Chairman told the Annual General Meeting.

Despite charity shops being closed and major events cancelled seriously impacting the hospice’s ability to raise funds its continued to deliver its care and services to communities in south and mid Wales.

St David’s Hospice Care Chairman, Malgwyn Davies, told the annual general meeting at the hospice’s Newport headquarters: “As one can easily imagine it has been a year like no other.”

Mr Davies said: “We started it fearing the unknown but with specific concern for the safety of all those for whom we cared, the people employed by us who collectively delivered that care, the volunteers who provide invaluable support and whether, through all this, we could survive financially.

Mr Davies said there had been a ‘vast amount of activity’ initially in considering and implementing new ways of working with PPE with safety being uppermost in mind.

“Financially we end the year in a better position than anticipated due to a combination of factors, such as the financial assistance from central and devolved governments, effective management by our Chief Executive, Emma Saysell and her team and creative fundraising initiatives which did not involve mass gatherings.”

Mr Davies said he was ‘bursting with pride’ at what the hospice had achieved. “Some of the practices adopted will be enshrined in the future delivery of services and management of our affairs.

“I would also like to thank the St David’s Hospice Care Board for their unstinting support at all times. Everyone involved with St David’s Hospice Care can justifiably feel a true sense of pride in what has been achieved in this unprecedented year.”

Guest Speaker, Veronica Snow, the end of life programme lead for Wales reflected on palliative and end of life care in Wales over the past 10 years and for the next decade.

Mrs Snow, a former District and MacMillan nurse, involved in the sector for forty years praised St David’s Hospice Care for its tenacity and vision over the past years a highlight being its move from cramped, outdated accommodation at Cambrian House, Newport, to purpose built facilities in Malpas, Newport.

Mrs Snow praised the hospice, which has the longest established and largest hospice at home service in Wales, for its vision to ensure its Newport hospice was dementia friendly and equipped with external entrances to its 15-room in patient unit for ease of access for families especially during the recent pandemic.

Mrs Snow spoke of the work undertaken to research, deliver and act on the findings and recommendations of the seminal Sugar Report into palliative and end of life care in Wales.

And how barriers, in particular between the statutory and voluntary sectors, had been systematically eroded and broken down over the years.

Mrs Snow discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic had focussed minds in a different ways on delivery of end of life care and the valuable lessons learned.

And she said the challenges overcome and triumphs of St David’s Hospice Care over past years and during the pandemic would stand the hospice in good stead for the next 10 years and beyond.

St David’s Hospice Care Chief Executive, Emma Saysell, told the meeting said it had been ‘a most extraordinary, challenging and sad year for everyone across the world’ but  that  she had been ‘extremely moved and touched as to how the community we service have stood by us during this time’.

Mrs Saysell said: “It has most certainly strengthened our partnerships with care homes and primary care, working together to try and ensure our patients received the best possible care. I remain staggered at how our clinical staff adapted so quickly to a new way of working, never losing sight of the needs of patients and their families.

Mrs Saysell said she was ‘inspired by the hospice’s team’ and the ‘resilience and commitment’ of the front line staff’. She also paid tribute to the retail and fundraising staff.

“During the pandemic we had an emergency appeal for funds and I was overwhelmed by the response from the community and businesses.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Welsh Government for their support of hospices during the pandemic, it was heartening to see how much they value the work of hospices in the community.

The annual review meeting heard the hospice day centre in Newport had been closed for the entire year, 365 days. The hospice, which costs £12, 700 per day to operate its range of services and care  in the community, delivered 48, 137 hours of its hospice at home service throughout the community.

The inpatient unit in Malpas, Newport, had 195 admissions, at an average length of stay of 15 days. The hospice family team delivered 710 bereavement team sessions and 236 families were referred to Unicorn, the children’s bereavement service. Clinical Nurse Specialists helped 3,455 patients in the year and saw 2, 143 new referrals.