Clinical Services Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

The new look Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice

The new look Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice has welcomed its first patients.

The facility has undergone a major transformation to become one of the most modern healthcare centres in the region.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire Lady Alexis Redmond MBE officially declared the centre open after a nine-month building project costing £1.3m.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire Lady Alexis Redmond MBE cuts the ribbon to reopen the Sunflower Living Well Centre.

There to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony were long-standing Hospice supporters Anna Rains, Thelma Jackson and Madge Slater whose fundraising exploits created the original Sunflower Centre in 2000.

The new complex on the same site adjoining the main Hospice building is equipped to meet a rapidly growing need for the Hospice’s services.

Patient and carer capacity will eventually more than double from a weekly rate of 179 to 400.

More services can now operate simultaneously and during evenings and weekends.

The new design in dementia-friendly colours allows natural light to flood the main room. Smart technology is also incorporated.

The interior of the new centre.

The work was funded by significant grants from The Hargreaves Charitable Trust, The Mather Family Charitable Trust, The Wolfson Foundation and Garfield Weston. The balance was met from the charity’s reserves.

Guests included Robbie Hargreaves, co-founder of Proseal UK which provided funds for a new Hospice wing opened three years ago, and patrons, trustees, ambassadors, vice presidents and volunteers.

Contractors celebrated the opening with staff, including project manager Mike Drew.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “This is an important day in the history of East Cheshire Hospice.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported us to make today a reality, enabling us to extend and develop our care to anyone, anywhere and anytime they need it.

The entrance to the new look Sunflower Living Well Centre.

“We’re delighted Lady Redmond, a fervent supporter of the Hospice movement, can be with us today, along with her husband Sir Phil Redmond, and our donors without whom this building would not have been possible.

“Our staff are the best team any organisation could ever hope to have.”

Lady Redmond said: “This is such a special place and I congratulate you all. The aim of the new centre is to be at the heart of the hospice’s commitment to making sure those with life-limiting illnesses are supported to live as well as possible right from the point of diagnosis.”

The Northern Chamber Orchestra, sponsored by CDL Software, entertained guests with a demonstration of Mind Music, a project exploring the effects of live music on those living with dementia.

Helen Trueman, CDL’s Internal Communications Manager, said: “We were delighted to sponsor the Northern Chamber Orchestra to play at the opening of the Sunflower Living Well Centre, and to be part of celebrating the addition of this wonderful resource for the community.

“CDL has a long-standing relationship with the orchestra who work to widen access to live classical music in a range of settings, including care homes, schools and in this case, by bringing through their ‘mind music’ initiative to East Cheshire Hospice. Congratulations to all involved.”

A glimpse inside the plush new Sunflower Living Well Centre

Helen Henshaw only wanted a new carpet for her beloved Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice.

Her wish was granted and she got a lot more besides.

Helen Henshaw, who has worked at East Cheshire Hospice for 25 years. 

A glimpse inside the plush new complex shows the scale of a stunning facility.

Helen, the centre manager, said: “All I asked for in the first place was to replace our dark carpet which wasn’t classed as dementia friendly and this is what we’ve ended up with!

“People with dementia can be reluctant to walk on dark colours. They feel it could be a hole or a puddle.

“The new centre is lighter and brighter and has opened everything up, using technology to give a new perspective.”

Staff toast the opening of the new look Sunflower Living Well Centre.

Helen has worked at the Hospice for 25 years. She said: “When I first came we had a small day care set up in one of the side rooms near the inpatient unit before opening up the main room in 2000.

“Now we have a built-in sound system and can dim the lights for relaxation sessions and project presentations on to a big wall.

“Before we were a general day care unit. Now we’re progressing into a wellbeing centre giving information and guidance on managing conditions.

Centre manager Helen Henshaw presents flowers to Lady Alexis Redmond MBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, watched by Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston.

“People were frightened and apprehensive of the word hospice. We want this to be a community hub accessible to all where people feel comfortable and relaxed.

“We’re offering services from the point of diagnosis and want family and social groups to use these facilities.”

Business owner Ben Simpkin saw how he could help East Cheshire Hospice

Business owner Ben Simpkin saw how he could help East Cheshire Hospice during visits to see his late father.

He donated two sophisticated medical trolleys, products his company supplies to hospitals and health centres.

Hospice nursing staff liked the essential equipment so much they asked for a quote to buy another one.

Ben happily agreed to their request but would not take any payment. The extra trolley is for use in the Sunflower Living Well Centre.

Ben Simpkin with healthcare assistant Anita Hoskins and one of the trolleys.

It was the least he could do for the way they looked after his father, Howard, who died of pancreatic cancer in September, aged 79.

Ben is MD of MS Group, a holding company trading also as Zarges Medical UK. It supplies the medical industry with furniture and storage equipment.

He is following in the footsteps of his dad who set up the company in 1978 and lived in Adlington.

Ben said: “The company was dad’s life work and we’re carrying on that tradition. During hospital stays in his last two years, we’d discuss the furniture in there and laugh about how he could sell them something.

“He spent his last three days in the Hospice and while I was wandering through the corridors one night I saw their existing trolleys.

“I asked them if they’d like two new ones. They were most grateful and more than happy to accept my offer. They rang to ask for a price for another trolley, but it’s hard to charge a place like that for anything so we’ve donated three altogether.

“The trolleys are top of the range, flexible and can store everything from bandages to syringes.

“The way the Hospice cared for my dad was unbelievable. They couldn’t have done any more or been any nicer. I can’t repay them for what they did, but it made sense to help them with any little contribution we can.”

Helen Henshaw, manager of the Hospice’s Sunflower Living Well Centre, said: “Ben’s generosity not only honours his father’s memory but also contributes significantly to our ability to offer compassionate, high-quality care.

“These trolleys are much more than just equipment. They’re a vital part of our daily efforts to provide gold standard care and our nurses love them.

“We’re deeply thankful for the ongoing support which helps us make a real difference to the lives of those we care for.”

The daily cost for East Cheshire Hospice increases

East Cheshire Hospice now needs to find a staggering £9,362 a day to keep its doors open.

The daily cost represents a near 25 per cent increase on the old figure of £7,500.

The new total, calculated on average costs over the last five years, excludes the 21 per cent of income received from government.

That percentage has risen from 17 per cent but is still well below the 30 per cent hospices receive on average nationally from public funds.

East Cheshire’s slight rise in NHS support is due to the extra community services it now provides.

The Hospice has also calculated that a single overnight stay in its inpatient unit costs £740.

The increases are due to a combination of factors.

The cost of providing care at the Hospice has gone up.

Energy bills have gone up, as have staff wages with the Hospice committed to matching NHS salaries.

The cost of equipment and building maintenance also rose as part of the cost-of-living crisis.

The £7,500 figure needed daily also excluded the charity’s popular Hospice @ Home service which started in 2017.

The total cost of running the Hospice, which provides more services than ever before, is around £5.6m a year.

The modernised Sunflower Living Well Centre will have the capacity to support 400 individual and family members each week, more than twice the previous number.

Importantly, the complex will allow more than one service to run at any one time, giving the Hospice further scope to handle the changing complexity of healthcare needs.

Income Generation Director Rachel Allcock said: “The fact we need to raise £9,362 a day to run the Hospice emphasises more than ever the need to continue to generate funds.

Rachel Allcock, Income Generation Director at East Cheshire Hospice.


“The amazing goodwill and generosity of the public, our corporate supporters and our hard- working staff and volunteers keeps us going and we thank them sincerely for their ongoing support.

“The model used to calculate our costs allows us to update the figures easily.

“We deliver a lot more services than we did before so the sum we need to raise is far more up to date, reflecting the scale of the challenge we face in difficult economic times.”

Barry Oldfield sets a new personal goal for this years Starlight Walk

Completing next month’s Starlight Walk will be an achievement in itself for grandfather Barry Oldfield.

Ill health will force him to take things easy as he strolls round woodland at Capesthorne Hall on Thursday, April 18.

It will be an emotional journey for Barry as he honours the memory of wife June who died of cancer in January 2021, aged 58.

Barry and June Oldfield on their wedding day in 1980.

He won’t be lacking support, though. Sons Barry, Paul and Andrew are joining him for the popular walk organised by East Cheshire Hospice.

Hundreds of other walkers will take part, many also remembering lost loved ones.

Barry, from Macclesfield, said: “I’m not very well, but I thought I’d give it another go after doing the walk with Barry and Paul last year.

“Andrew is also coming along this time to help. My health is getting worse and I have difficulty breathing due to COPD, osteoarthritis in my knees and neuropathy in my hands and feet.

Happier times … June and Barry on holiday.

“Last year we managed two laps, though it took us a long time to get round. My aim this time to get round the 2.5k course once.

“In a way, it’d be an achievement to do that.

“The atmosphere at the event is superb and that helps me. I’ll be thinking of June and the nurses who did such a fantastic job caring for her.”

June died within months of diagnosis and overcame Covid during a hospital stay. Once home, she was looked after by the East Cheshire Hospice @ Home palliative care team.

June was a long-time care team leader at Ingersley Court, Bollington,

Barry said: “The nurses were brilliant as were all her carers. The Hospice nurses looked after me as well. After June died, they still came to see me to make sure I was alright.”

Barry was an army veteran for 34 years, retiring in 2012 to drive a refuse lorry for Cheshire East Council.

The Hospice is still inviting entries for the walk. Gates open at 6 pm with the walk from 7 pm.

Barry Oldfield with Hospice fundraiser Amy Williams.

Participants can walk the route as often as they wish. Lighting, lanterns, fire pits, points of reflection and other features to enjoy along the way.

Entry is £22.50 and £17.50 for under 16s. To enter visit the Hospice website.

Walkers are encouraged to raise funds for the Hospice to help fund the care of patients.

There will be live entertainment with food and drink stalls.

Hospice team take on Born Survivor!

Bereavement counsellor Helen Wilkinson will not take no for an answer recruiting volunteers for a Born Survivor challenge.

She has already persuaded several colleagues from East Cheshire Hospice to join her tackling a 10k assault course at Capesthorne Hall on Saturday, April 27.

Helen said: “I’m still trying to rope people in. A lot of people seem to be busy that weekend and everyone is welcome to join us.”

* To enter visit

Volunteers include Liam Lawton from accounts, wife Claire and his sister Hannah. They are taking part in memory of Liam’s grandmother Glenise who died in the Hospice last June.

The Hospice team in the Born Survivor event. From left, Luke Hughes, Hannah Bentham, Liam Lawton, Laura Lamptey, Helen Wilkinson, Debbie Kassas and Sue Milligan.

Glenise would have been 80 on the day of the event, making it an event more poignant occasion for the family.

Other members of the Hospice team are People and Development Lead Laura Lamptey and HR advisor Hannah Bentham.

Hospice @Home sister Sue Milligan and Dementia Lead/Specialist Nurse Debbie Kassas are also competing, along with fundraiser Luke Oldham and long-serving volunteer Janet Dean who helps out mainly on reception.

Helen said: “It’s a privilege to work at the Hospice as a therapist providing counselling to family and friends before and after their loved one has died.

“Working with people at their very core. This challenge is for you, your loved ones and our amazing team who I’m lucky to work with.”

* To sponsor Helen visit

Grace Williams and her family grateful of East Cheshire Hospice’s support

East Cheshire Hospice came to the rescue not once but twice for Grace Williams and her family.

Her late husband Jon was supported in 2015 when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

Then four years later her uncle Paul Waddell (62) died in the Hospice from the same illness.

Grace is raising funds for the charity through a Born Survivor event at Capesthorne Hall on Saturday, April 27.

Grace and her late husband Jon both received support from East Cheshire Hospice.

Grace said: “We thought we had our whole lives ahead of us, with a one-year-old daughter Alana. But Jon was gone three months after diagnosis, aged 30. I was 27.

“When we first walked into the Hospice it was like getting a big hug. Everything from emotional support to physical equipment Jon so desperately needed was given to us once we arrived.

“I was stressed and not eating or sleeping. The Hospice provided respite and a safe place for us, including having meals together. I didn’t want to leave Jon as I knew I didn’t have long left with him.

“They introduced us to patients, carers and nurses who made him feel he wasn’t alone. That shared experience was so powerful.

“Rooms were like home from home. It didn’t smell clinical and wasn’t formal.

Grace’s uncle and auntie, Paul and Lindsay Wadde

“Jon felt comfortable there and received complementary therapies. I had counselling with Fay Mitchell and don’t think I’d be here without her.

“Fay helped me process the trauma of what had been going on.”

Grace was still receiving counselling when her uncle was admitted.

Grace, a graphic designer, said: “Incredibly, our family, including my auntie Lindsay, found ourselves back in the world of the Hospice. Paul passed away surrounded by the same amazing people who’d looked after Jon.

“I was there a lot with my uncle and everyone still remembered me. I could even see Paul’s room from Fay’s window.

“Staff kept us well informed and gave us plenty of hugs. They did everything. It sounds stupid but they would appear next to you with a brew.

“It was like they had a sixth sense of what will help. Working at the Hospice is definitely a calling in life.

“If I could afford to quit my job, I’d be there like a shot to volunteer. I feel I’ve got so much to give back to them which is why I’m doing this challenge.”

*To sponsor Grace visit

To enter Born Survivor visit

Walk and talk counselling group

A leisurely stroll through Macclesfield Forest has become a popular way to assist with the grieving process.

The walk and talk counselling group run by East Cheshire Hospice using nature’s wonders as a backdrop help the bereaved cope with their losses.

Applications are open for the next series of six weekly 90-minute walks, starting on Wednesday, March 6.

The Forest Therapy group is available to family, carers and close friends of those who have accessed Hospice services in some way.

The walks, which began almost a year ago, are on a rolling cycle.

Hospice bereavement counsellors Helen Wilkinson (left) and Carole Hartley.

Bereavement counsellors Helen Wilkinson and Carole Hartley accompany the small groups whose feedback has been extremely positive.

Helen, the Adult Bereavement Services Manager, said: “The walks have been extremely popular, everyone has said they’d recommend it. One person said it’s so good it should be rolled out in all hospices.

“It’s important to emphasise the counselling and psychotherapy element because there are quite a few peer support groups out there already who are talking while they’re walking. But this group is run by two counsellors/psychotherapists.

“We cover a basic, gentle route and these walks have a huge benefit because we use nature as our playground for the therapy.

“Nature is so powerful in such a subtle way. People can relate to things instead of being sat in a room and talking intensely. We’ve found that outdoors things come easily to people, they can process grief in that natural environment.

“It might be a certain tree that resonates with them, or focusing on something that comes up for them during the walk.

“We’ve also had quite spiritual moments, with butterflies circling and robins stopping on the path in front. It’s powerful what you notice going through the forest and helps provide a gentle insight into someone’s grief.

“As it’s group therapy, people can say as much, or as little, as they want. But nine times of 10, the beauty of it is that someone introverted and quiet and quite isolated in their grief can often learn so much from others.

“It can bring them out of their shell and help their processes. They may make peer support connections afterwards as well.”

* To join the walk, or find out more, contact the Bereavement Services team on 01625 708936 or email

Forest Therapy Group Feedback

“It gave me a ray of relief and hope in a very dark time” … just one poignant remark from a bereaved member of the Forest Therapy group.

Feedback to the Macclesfield Forest walks has been highly encouraging. Comments from participants include …

“The group provides an amazingly supportive and welcoming lifeline for those suffering with grief and bereavement. It has restored my faith in my own ability to keep living and to find a way forward.”

Members of the Forest Therapy Group enjoy a relaxing walk.

“We realised we’re all feeling the same kind of emotions or have felt that way and got through that stage. That makes you feel stronger to know you’re getting somewhere.”

 “We all got on so well and really bonded. I was so sad it finished. We’re all going to keep in touch to talk and arrange walks which feels the right thing to do.”

“The Forest Therapy was crucial for me, finding a wonderful group of people all honest and beautifully kind. Being surrounded by nature and able to reflect was priceless.”

“I would highly recommend these sessions for anyone who has lost someone close to them.”

“Reflecting on everything around me in the forest gave a sense of calm and peace which has been missing. Just the act of being surrounded by nature, with people who didn’t judge if I cried, made me feel safe and relaxed.”

* The Hospice’s bereavement services also offer one-to-one counselling either face to face, over the telephone and online, or through groups and workshops.

A host of happy memories on Trek Camino

Walker Lorna Barratt was left with wet boots and blisters and a host of happy memories from her Spanish pilgrimage.

She was part of an 18-strong party from East Cheshire Hospice which raised more than £70,000 from a five-day trek along the famous Camino Trail.

Every step was made in heavy rain with flooding near the finish in Santiago de Compostela, but it did not deter the plucky fundraisers.

Lorna, from Macclesfield, has close links with the Hospice, having spent more than four years there as a palliative care social worker.

After retiring last year, she now volunteers at the monthly MND Wellbeing Days.

Lorna said: “I loved the social work role and only stopped because my own mum Elizabeth was poorly and needed end-of-life care herself. I worked with the multi-disciplinary team identifying families who needed support.”

She volunteered for the trip after seeing an advert in the Hospice reception.

* Lorna Barrett on the Camino Trail.

She said: “Everyone was walking in memory of someone the Hospice had cared for and our group formed a supportive and close bond.

“It was very wet with torrential rain on the last day and the flooding was all over the news.

“We all had to dig deep walking an average of 15 miles a day, but it was a special trip and quite spiritual for many of us.

“We picked up donations along the way, including airport check-in staff and the lady exchanging currency. The outpouring of support for the Hospice is incredible and so heartening.”

Lorna’s walk was in memory of fireman Barry Axon, a close friend who was cared for in the Hospice.

She said: “Barry was well cared for, as were his family. The Hospice put its arms around the family as it does for all families in their care.

Walkers on their trek through northern Spain.

“Barry was a big walker and this was something he’d have done. He also had great faith, a pilgrimage in memory of Barry was a privilege.

“The MND group which meets on the fourth Friday of the month were also in my thoughts and indeed many contributed to my fundraising. Despite the sadness of a diagnosis of MND, there’s a lot of joy within that day.

“It’s like a one-stop shop of support and information with outside speakers offering advice. Patients and carers also get a lot of support from each other.”

* To donate to the Camino fund visit