Clinical Services Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

Corporate Challenge to Fund Bereavement Services

Bereavement services run by East Cheshire Hospice will benefit from the next Corporate Challenge in May.

Firms and other organisations are being urged to sign up for the fun competition in which entrants  raise as much as possible from a £100 start-up loan.

All proceeds will go towards the expansion of the Hospice’s bereavement services for which demand has increased because of Covid-19.

East Cheshire Hospice’s Bereavement Services Lead Helen Wilkinson said: “People are more isolated and their grief compounded by restrictions, meaning they can’t hug, meet a friend, or catch up like they did.

“Some people try to squash their emotions, or keep busy, before realising there’s a problem and they can’t cope. We’re seeing that now and the delayed reaction means we’re likely to see it in the future as well.

“We encourage people to talk about it, be open and seek help. Everyone has different experiences and Covid and lockdown has heightened emotions.

“Those grieving shouldn’t wear a mask metaphorically and friends, relatives and society can help by  listening and offer empathy.  Bereavement is hard anyway.  Now more than ever, people are recognising the need for support.”

Helen Wilkinson, Bereavement Services Lead at East Cheshire Hospice.

Last year’s Corporate Challenge raised £12,226 and was won by Equilibrium Financial Planning which has also entered this time, along with Leap 29. All profit made by teams during May is donated to the Hospice.

* For details contact Corporate Relationships Manager Kate Bowmar on 01625 433477, email, or go to

Warren Greveson’s Care

Vanessa Greveson has given an emotional account of how East Cheshire Hospice provided help when it was most needed.

Her talented musician husband Warren died of cancer in October 2019, spending his last three weeks as a Hospice inpatient. He was 63.

His health was declining when the couple moved to Macclesfield from Anglesey that summer.

Vanessa said: “He was pretty poorly by then. There comes a time in caring for someone when the drug regime needs frequent adjustment and you need instant advice from your medical team. However, you can’t always get hold of the right people just at the right moment.

“We came into the Hospice and that was brilliant. An enormous burden of responsibility had been lifted off my shoulders.

“I knew that someone else was going to know whether to up the syringe driver drugs, and manage any changes.

“I no longer had to relay anything to anyone. I could enjoy being with Warren, though sadly not for long enough.

“What neither of us had anticipated was the effect of the positive, supportive and very caring approach of everyone at the Hospice for us both. We were very happy in those last days together.”

Warren was a composer and producer, writing orchestral music electronically in his studio.

One of his most innovative works was a 2018 album inspired by the Voyager space missions. It was performed at festivals in Anglesey and Orlando. He died before his final work could be performed and released on CD.

Warren in his music studio.

Review of the Year – 2020

Face shields, fundraising and a special farewell marked a year that East Cheshire Hospice will never forget.

End-of-life care became much harder because of Covid-19 which prevented the Hospice from holding a single mass-participation event in 2020.

Nurses showed amazing character and spirit – their brave efforts honoured during the emotional  Clap for Carers tributes each Thursday.

The community came together during lockdown, raising much-needed funds with all ages showing incredible acts of kindness and dedication.

Tytherington School pupil Finley Foote raised an incredible £5,515 running near his Bollington home, while another youngster George Bailey climbed 108,000 steps.

Many were inspired by fundraiser Carl Lamptey who received messages of support from musicians and sports stars.

Face shields flooded into the Hospice, along with other PPE equipment. Students and staff at Fallibroome Academy produced visors, while volunteer Shelagh Julian put her sewing skills to good use making masks.

Musician John Jones has spent more than 30 years cheering up patients playing his accordion. His performances have raised more than £300,000 for charity, including £89,000 for the Hospice.

John lost his wife June in March but was determined the show must go on in tribute to his biggest supporter.

The Hospice made two key appointments in 2020. Experienced BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson was appointed a Patron of the charity, which cared for his late father Robbie, while Edna Keefe became an Honorary Vice President.

The news came as she retired after 32 years’ service. Edna’s first job was to clean the Hospice before it even welcomed its first patient and she later worked in the laundry room.

The pandemic led to volunteers standing down temporarily, the Hospice hoping to welcome them all back in 2021.


Fallibroome Academy’s Catriona Beynon hard at work making visors.


Finley Foote and mum Sarah on one of their runs.


Edna Keefe (left) with former housekeeping colleague Christine Jenkins.


Nick Robinson who became a Hospice Patron in 2020.


Accordionist John Jones who has raised over £300,000 for charity.


Nurses taking part in the Clap for Carers.

A Challenging Year

East Cheshire Hospice is predicting a big financial loss because of Covid-19.

The Hospice has been unable to hold a mass-participation fundraising event for over a year and has been forced to make redundancies.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the community who’ve been incredibly generous.

“Like us, they were fearful and distracted by everything else in their own lives but they still took time out to support us and donate online, or do a fundraiser.

“Knowing that people are rooting for you like that kept us going and was the embodiment of the wind beneath our wings.

“Along with that extra goodwill, we had support from the government but we’ve been told that finishes on March 31 so we’re expecting a shortfall of almost £1m next year and have had to make some roles redundant.

“It’s a significant challenge to keep all our services going. It’s not like our service isn’t needed or we can cut back, because every single thing we do is around support for people facing incurable diseases.

“We’ve allowed visitors throughout the pandemic in a controlled and measured way and have done all we possibly can to make sure people are with loved ones right until the end.

“The PPE has been a physical barrier between the warmth, kindness and physical touch of someone who really cares for you.

“Our new Hospice @Home day time team started in April and that was absolutely needed.”

Staff members Jill Harding (left) and Tess Cleaver with the Hospice @Home car.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston (left) and Assistant Nurse Practitioner Clare Preston welcome PPE from China in April.

Preparations For A Third Covid Wave

East Cheshire Hospice is preparing for a third wave of Covid-19 piling further pressure on the charity’s stretched resources.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston says exhausted staff face a challenging period before a vaccine hopefully ends the crisis.

Reflecting on the toughest year in the Hospice’s history, Karyn said: “There was no respite for us when the country started to open in July and August.

“We realised we had to use that time to prepare for wave two because a consequence of getting together was that the disease spread.

“Now we’ve opened up a spreadsheet called wave three because we know Christmas is going to bring many new challenges in January.

“So we’re preparing for that and you’re piling this on human beings exhausted from what they’ve been through and who’re emotionally and physically drained.

“January and February is always a stressful time for us anyway because there are usually respiratory illnesses around then.

“We expect it to be much worse this year but there’s hope that by the end of March our frontline staff will be vaccinated. That’d be a huge step forward for us and very re-assuring.”

The Hospice, which started an asymptomatic test programme with Cheshire East Council, had to stand down all 675 volunteers initially. Around 50 are back, including a newly-created family liaison role supporting visitors with PPE rules.

Karyn said: “Standing down volunteers left a huge hole in our ability to perform the way we normally  did. All roles are vital and not many companies could lose around 600-plus employees and expect to function in the same way.

“Obviously the whole team pulled together and tried to fill those roles as best we could to keep the place going. We sorely miss our volunteers who amplify the humanity brought to our organisation in ways we didn’t fully understand until it wasn’t there.”

Caring for end-of-life patients has presented many challenges.

Karyn said: “We’re an organisation that operates in the extra mile zone so you can imagine how difficult it’s been for our front-line staff dealing with the present danger of spreading the disease but also turning to heartbroken family members and saying ‘no I’m sorry you can’t come in today.’

“That’s where the mental health of our team has been really challenged  – for a team that’s used to operating in the extra mile not being able to get there has been awful for them.”

Karyn Johnston, Chief Executive of East Cheshire Hospice.

Festive Afternoon Teas

Afternoon teas were delivered to homes as East Cheshire Hospice still made sure the festive season was celebrated in style.

The tasty treats were enjoyed by members of the Hospice’s friends and family support group at their virtual Christmas party.

Volunteer drivers took out the festive boxes prepared by the Hospice catering team in a doorstep delivery service which reflected the spirit of Christmas.

From left, staff nurse Joan Marie Williams, Denise Higginbotham from the catering team and volunteer drivers Peter Bedson and Richard Hayes.

The support group is for those looking after a family member or friend diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

No link to the Hospice is required to be part of the group which meets on the first Tuesday of each month.

Sessions were at the Sunflower Centre until April and have been held via Zoom since the start of Covid-19.

Sunflower Centre Manager Helen Henshaw said: “For our December season  members would have been served a delicious Christmas lunch and enjoyed festive entertainment.

“So in keeping with our new technological skills we held a virtual Christmas lunchtime party which allowed everyone to enjoy the contents of the boxes and share amusing stories.

“This was a first for the Hospice and we were excited to be able to continue to offer this invaluable support.

“It also gave us the chance to wish goodbye to 2020 and pray for good health and better times in 2021.”

Anyone who provides care and support for an adult with a diagnosis of any life-limiting illness in Eastern Cheshire can access the self-referral friends and family service. For more information contact the unit on 01625 665685.

Helen said: “The group offer time to talk, share, relax and support others in a similar situation. It’s also worth stressing the group is also open to those who might not necessarily have a connection to the Hospice.

“Staff within the unit adapted quickly after Covid-19 and set themselves a challenge, initiating the use of Zoom to continue the monthly support sessions.

“These have continued during this unusual year and feedback from our service users has been extremely positive and a lifeline during lockdowns.

“We’d like to thank everyone who contributed towards making our virtual afternoon tea such a success, especially our volunteer drivers and our catering team.”

Staff nurse Joan Marie Williams and Carol Schofield from the Sunflower Centre.

Second Lockdown at the Hospice

Bedside visits to patients at East Cheshire Hospice are still being allowed during the new national lockdown.

There are already limited restrictions in place for visitors to the inpatient unit and these will continue over the four-week period.

The Hospice will also carry on with limited outpatient services at the Sunflower Centre, while the Hospice @Home service continues as normal.

Hospice shops at Thornton Square, Wilmslow and Poynton have closed until the lockdown ends on December 2, although online sales will continue via the shops’ Facebook pages.

Volunteers will continue to work on reception and staff will work from home where possible.

Meanwhile, the fundraising Firewalk event has been postponed from last Friday (Nov 6) to Friday 5th February 2021.

The Christmas tree collection will still go ahead on January 9/10 while complying to government restrictions.

Income Generation Director Rachel Allcock said: “We thank everyone for their patience and understanding during these difficult times.

“We will continue to deliver our services and will monitor the situation daily. If there is a change we will adapt accordingly to ensure we operate in a way that meets all Covid safety requirements. Our priority is the care of our patients in a safe and secure setting.”

The Hospice has not been able to hold a fundraising event since the last Christmas tree collection in January. A terrific community response has eased the financial strain and the hope is that the public will continue to support the Hospice during this latest lockdown.

Rachel Allcock, Income Generation Director at East Cheshire Hospice.

New Adult Bereavement Service

East Cheshire Hospice is offering counselling to adults who have lost loved ones during Covid-19, even if they have no previous link to the Hospice.

Anyone bereaved whose emotional and mental well-being has been affected by the pandemic qualifies.

Their GP can refer them for professional psychological support from Hospice therapists.

NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is resourcing the county-wide project with St Luke’s, Winsford, and Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Chester, also involved.

For East Cheshire it means extending services beyond families and carers of its own patients.

Adults affected by bereavement can access up to 12 sessions via Zoom or telephone.

The Hospice’s Adult Bereavement Services Manager Helen Wilkinson said: “We’re making people aware the service is there and those who’ve lost someone during Covid-19 are eligible.

“It could be someone anticipating death, a Covid-19 loss or the bereaved during this awful time.

“For instance, it might be a parent or spouse who died of another cause other than Covid-19, which you have been impacted from severely by restrictions in place during lockdown.

“Grief is a normal response and most people manage without professional intervention. However, for those who are really struggling to cope and for whom friends and family aren’t enough, then our psychological support services are available.”

Helen suspects there will be plenty seeking therapy.

She said: “There was already increased demand for our services due to Covid. In our area we’ve  recognised that more bereavement support is needed and require extra capacity.

“People are more isolated and their grief compounded by restrictions, meaning they can’t hug, meet a friend, or catch up like they did.

“Some people try to squash down their emotions, or keep busy, before realising there’s a problem and they can’t cope. We’re seeing that now and the delayed reaction means we’re likely to see it in the future as well.

“We encourage people to talk about it, be open and seek help. Everyone has different experiences and Covid and lockdown has heightened emotions. Some don’t want to bother ringing the doctor because there’s a pandemic while others feel isolated.

“Those grieving shouldn’t wear a mask metaphorically and friends, relatives and society can help by  listening and offer empathy.  Bereavement is hard anyway.  Now more than ever, people are recognising the need for support.”

Helen Wilkinson, Adult Bereavement Services Manager at East Cheshire Hospice.

Sunflower Centre Update

East Cheshire Hospice is hoping to reopen its Sunflower Centre in September.

The day care unit – the hub for the Hospice’s outpatient services –  has been closed for three months.

Clinical Director Sandra Jones said: “We’re taking it a day at a time, but we’re planning to have small groups back towards the start of September.

“Obviously, we’ll be adhering to social distancing and keeping footfall as low as possible. We need to make sure it’s safe for everyone who comes into the unit.

“There are logistics involved and many patients rely on our volunteer drivers to collect them.  We need to get the volunteers back on board and make sure they feel happy to go and bring people in.

“We also have volunteers who serve food and refreshments. That all depends on who’s willing to come in.”

The Sunflower Centre, managed by Helen Henshaw, has continued some services, including counselling, via phone and video calls. An online afternoon tea is popular.

Sunflower Centre manager Helen Henshaw in the day care unit.

Staff were redeployed to help the IPU and Hospice @Home teams and other areas, including laundry and housekeeping.

Sandra said: “We’ve been supporting patients with weekly calls to see how they are and signposting them to GPs and district nurses if necessary. Most just need a welfare catch up and someone to talk to and run things by.”

“The team have been fantastic, moving round to fill gaps and changing rotas at the drop of a hat to make sure we still provide a service.”

East Cheshire Hospice Inpatient Unit During Covid-19

The absence of families around the bedsides of dying patients has been one of the hardest parts of Covid-19 restrictions at East Cheshire Hospice.

Visitors have had to stay away from the inpatient unit for strict safety reasons unless a patient has been in the last days of life.

Then they have been allowed one visitor – two for a patient approaching the last few hours of life.

Clinical Director Sandra Jones said: “It’s been really difficult for staff not having relatives here because that’s not what we do.

“We care for the patient and the family holistically, working with families to prepare for the death of a loved one. Not being able to do that has been hard.

“We’ve used iPads and WhatsApp to allow patients to talk to relatives at home. We’ve encouraged them to send emails which we’ve printed off and read to patients and shown them pictures.

“It’s obviously not the same as seeing someone face-to-face but no patient has died alone. A member of staff has been with them if the family couldn’t be present for any reason.”

Confirmed Covid-19 cases among patients and staff have presented challenges for Hospice staff.

Sandra said: “We’ve had patients with unconfirmed and confirmed Covid and staff who’ve been unwell with the illness but we’ve just had to manage the best we can.

“A patient with Covid wouldn’t be treated differently to any other infectious patient. Obviously we have to ramp up the PPE but they’re still cared for exceptionally well to our usual high Hospice standards.

“Staff adhere to the strict infection control regime and use the required PPE. Our housekeeping team have ramped up their cleaning schedules to make sure there’s no spread of infection. We can’t eliminate it, but we’re risk-managing it.”

Thankfully, the inpatient ward, managed by Claire Barber, has had enough beds to cope.

Sandra added: “We’ve been within capacity and we know that from our area the wave hasn’t hit as hard as we were expecting because the NHS Trust hasn’t been at the capacity it thought it was going to be.

“Luckily, we’ve been well supported with PPE and had all the equipment we need. The amount of information and guidance we received on making sure our environment was safe was quite challenging.

“I’ve been a nurse for more than 40 years and have never come across anything like this before.”

Sandra Jones, Clinical Director at East Cheshire Hospice.