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Response to national heart failure and hospice care report

Responding to the recent Heart Failure and Hospice Care report by Hospice UK and the British Heart Foundation, Earl Mountbatten Hospice welcomes the call for more heart patients to receive end of life care, adding that Islanders dying of heart failure already have excellent access to hospice services.
The report highlights how people living with advanced heart failure can benefit from personalised end of life care to help manage their symptoms, plan for the future and vastly improve wellbeing in their final months. It says that although end of life care for cancer patients is well established, the situation from those suffering from heart failure is very different. The report calls for a more integrated approach and for better local relationships between hospices and healthcare professionals in cardiology and primary care.
Earl Mountbatten Hospice has worked in close partnership with Community Heart Failure Nurse Specialist Georgina Newnham for many years. Specialist heart clinics are held on three days, every week in the hospice’s John Cheverton Centre, as Georgina explained: “Most of those clinics are held with patients who have significant heart failure and who are becoming socially isolated, and one of the reasons we hold clinics at the hospice is to show them what the John Cheverton Centre can offer. Some patients will receive physiotherapy, some will access the hospice’s psychological services and some use complementary therapies to improve their confidence and outlook. Others come in to the hospice’s InPatient Unit to receive respite care, and they will remain under our specialist care whilst they are here.”
Being based within the hospice gives the opportunity to dispel some common myths. Georgina added: “It’s important for heart patients and their families to come and look at the hospice’s facilities, certainly in the John Cheverton Centre, so that those who might have previously thought of the hospice as a place of death can see that it is actually full of light, laughter and mischief, and somewhere that you can choose to go to, and you go home at the end of the day. All of my patients feel really safe when they come here.”
Hospice care has changed over recent years and whilst previously the majority of support has been for cancer patients, more people with other life-limiting illness are now able to access support. “I think we’re really lucky on the Isle of Wight,” concluded Georgina. “We have really integrated care and patients who are known to the heart failure team have equal access – they have never been denied any of the support or use of the hospice’s facilities. We, as heart specialists, also give something back to the hospice, through training and education to make sure hospice staff feel supported and understand the disease, as well as the kind of death a heart patient will experience. I think we are ahead of a lot of other places,” said Georgina.
Meanwhile adults with a life-limiting illness, including heart failure, are welcome to join a series of free pop-in sessions at Earl Mountbatten Hospice. Positive Steps to Wellbeing sessions are aimed at supporting adults through information on a wide range of topics including coping with breathlessness, relaxation, protecting your skin and eating well. Sessions are held at 1pm on Wednesdays in the John Cheverton Centre and further information can be found in the ‘events’ section.

 "What should have been a very stressful time was eased by the love, professionalism and warmth we received from all the staff." 


Sandra Aldridge, wife of Colin