Hospice @Home Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

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 @Home nurse, Sarah Mills

Nurse, art teacher, volunteer and grandmother of 12 – life is never dull for Sarah Mills.

That is just how she likes it, juggling her many commitments.

Sarah has just completed 20 years as a bank nurse at East Cheshire Hospice, working an average of a shift a week on the Hospice @Home team.

Sarah Mills with six of her grandchildren.

Sarah, from Bollington, said: “Being a bank nurse means I’m like an extra, but I love it. It’s a brilliant job and allows me to manage my other commitments.

“I can control when I work. It sounds very privileged, but I’m able do lots of other voluntary things as well.

“I’ve been with the Hospice @Home team for about five years. It’s such a privileged job visiting people who want to be at home in their final days and who wouldn’t have had that opportunity before.

“We provide care and support for a family who may never have experienced an end-of-life situation. We can explain what to expect and hopefully, reassure and encourage them.

“We see the person in their entirety, surrounded by loved ones, as well as personal and familiar objects which provide comfort for them.

Sarah Mills enjoying the outdoors with her family.

“I’ve been a bank nurse all my career, including in the NHS. But the Hospice has such a different atmosphere with the time and opportunity to provide more sensitive and emotional care than is possible in the NHS.

“The Hospice has specialists in all areas and regular training provides a good base for all staff.”

Sarah is a member of the church council at St Barnabas and also keeps busy by supporting friends with needs.

She admits she is a better nurse than art teacher, a role she does to help daughter Katy who home educates her six children, the eldest of whom is 14.

“The children come round and we do drawing and painting, art appreciation, sewing and other creative media and have lots of fun. That takes up quite a bit of my time, but I thoroughly enjoy being the art teacher!”

Sarah and husband Cliff, a lawyer with the Co-operative movement, have three sons and two daughters.

New member in the Hospice @Home team

Mum Cheryl McDonald is one of the newest recruits at East Cheshire Hospice.

As a part-time health care assistant, she visits patients in their own homes as part of the Hospice @Home unit.

Cheryl has vast experience, having spent her entire career caring for people of all ages.

Yet she admits joining the Hospice in May was one of her best moves.

Cheryl said: “I’m still finding my feet, but already realise what a lovely place it is to work. I’d recommend it.

Health care assistant Cheryl McDonald with four-year-old son Nate.

“It’s a nice environment and as you walk down the corridors everyone is so friendly and everywhere so clean.”

Cheryl is still part of the bank team at Macclesfield and District General Hospital where she spent seven years, including spells in the same day emergency care unit and A and E.

She said: “I’m trained to take bloods so it keeps those skills. I work there a few hours each month. You have to do your bit to support the NHS don’t you?

“There are different pressures in a hospital where you can look after between 40 to 50 patients, whereas Hospice @Home means visiting one patient at a time.

“You concentrate on them and get to know the family and more about the patient.

“It’s so rewarding. You’re helping the person and their family and sometimes you’re the only person a patient may see in a day.

“You can signpost them to where they may need further help. It’s nice to know you can help those choosing to die at home.

“Not everyone wants to die in hospital, while the Hospice is also available if they choose to become an inpatient.”

Cheryl spent 10 years helping disabled children as Cheshire East co-ordinator at Carers Trust4all, having trained as a nursery nurse after leaving school.

Cheryl said: “Hospitals can be clinical and if someone passes away with a cardiac arrest you haven’t got to know that patient. Then it’s on to the next patient and that’s how it works.

“With Hospice @Home you’re able to build up a rapport, sitting with a patient and holding their hand and providing the comfort they need.

“There’s no pressure and you can sit with them for an hour if they wish. Nothing’s rushed.

“At hospital, we’ve sat with patients in their final hours too. They’re comfortable and no one is ever left alone.”

* To apply for a staff nurse vacancy visit eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/our-current-vacancies.

Hospice @Home Nurses share their stories

Going into homes caring for dying patients can be tough.

But it is also highly rewarding, as Hospice @Home nurses at East Cheshire Hospice know so well.

As the service reaches its fifth anniversary, staff have spoken at their pride helping patients at the most precious moment of their life.

Hospice @Home staff (from left) Sally Heaven, Helen Singleton and Gill Tomlinson.

Rapid response nurse Helen Singleton has been visiting homes since the start.

She said: “On that first day five years ago we hit the floor running. We were asked to go to a village I’d never heard of. Within two visits, we had got the patient safe and comfortable and the daughter was relieved.

“Dying is not easy. There is discomfort and there may be pain.

“Carers can be physically and emotionally exhausted, even traumatised. They may feel lonely and isolated and the household becomes chaotic.

“These are the reasons Hospice @Home exists. We endeavour to address all these difficulties, alongside our NHS and social care provider colleagues.”

Helen and colleagues use one of three Hospice cars which have made more than 14,000 home visits, day and night.

She said: “At 3 am on my last shift just by listening, we enabled a couple to make a difficult decision at home. Within a few hours, their wishes had been acted upon and the patient opted to go into the Hospice.

“Like all endeavours we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve managed to overcome the downs and have built on the ups. From a small team, we’re now a large team of 25, providing a wonderful array of services round the clock.

“We’ve fostered respect and co-operation with other services and as a hub for East Cheshire we’re a major focus for palliative care provision.

“We couldn’t have done this without our supporters and the donation of the cars has been much appreciated.”

Helen’s comments are echoed by colleagues, some of whom have raised funds for a service they are all passionate about.

Health care assistant Elaine Taylor had her head shaved. She said: “The job is so rewarding. It’s a privilege caring for patients at end-of-life.

“We get lovely messages from families when relatives have passed away, saying they couldn’t have coped without us.”

The service has helped over 1,000 people to die in their preferred place of death, either at home, or in the Hospice. Initially covering weekends and nights, it was extended to 24 hours in 2020.

Hospice @Home celebrate its 5th Anniversary

Caring for patients in the comfort of their own home was started by East Cheshire Hospice five years ago this month.

Its Hospice @Home service has been an overwhelming success during that time, expanding greatly to meet the needs of the community.

An initial team of six has grown to more than 25, including nurses, health care assistants, co-ordinators and bank staff. Home visits are made in cars painted in blue Hospice colours.

From left, Hospice @Home clinical co-ordinator Gill Tomlinson, manager Tess Cleaver and health care assistant Joanne Helm.

Figures show that since October 2017 staff have –

* Received 1,830 referrals.

* Made 14,400 home visits.

* Helped 1,028 people to die in their preferred place of death, either at home, or in the Hospice.

* Taken 1,107 SOS phone calls from users, possibly avoiding call-outs, ambulance visits, or hospital admissions.

* Made 6,036 planned phone calls to users, saving similar trips.

* Made 150 night sits.

Hospice @Home began as an out-of-hours rapid response service for patients in the last two weeks of life, later extended to 12 weeks.

It supported patients overnight and at weekends where access to health care professionals was limited. It also offered ad hoc care for patients with little or no package of care wishing to stay at home as long as possible.

A gap in regular care provision was identified in certain places, often due to locality and availability of care agencies in those areas.

That led to a day service, beginning in April 2020, providing high quality packages of care to patients rapidly deteriorating and thought to be entering a terminal phase.

Staffing levels were increased significantly to provide this round-the-clock service.

Meanwhile, carer breaks were introduced in January 2021, giving respite for carers of loved ones in the last six months of life.

Fifth birthday celebrations for the Hospice @Home service. Manager Tess Cleaver (left) with clinical co-ordinator Gill Tomlinson.

The Hospice is also now the East Cheshire hub for Palliative Care in Partnership, assessing patient suitability for community-based fast track care applications.

Since April, this hub project has provided night care in collaboration with Marie Curie, with an average of five night sits a week.

Hospice @Home Manager Tess Cleaver said: “I’m proud of what our exceptional team have achieved over the last five years. Everyone is so invested in providing excellent care tailored to each individual.

“Importantly, we’re part of a much wider healthcare network and close co-ordination with other community services is vital. We strive to provide high quality care and always learn from feedback to further improve our services.”

Elaine completes her head shave for East Cheshire Hospice

Elaine Taylor kept her promise to get her head shaved as a show of support for East Cheshire Hospice patients.

One patient in particular who had lost all her hair inspired Elaine, a health care assistant, to face the chop at the hairdressers.

Daughter Jade and daughter-in-law Lorri Taylor were there to witness the big moment.

Elaine, who is part of the Hospice @Home team, said: “I was nervous before and didn’t know what to expect. It was emotional because of why I was doing it and the meaning behind it.

Before…..Elaine Taylor preparing for her head shave.

“It felt liberating and was a bizarre feeling. I didn’t think I’d feel quite as good as I did when I came out.

“My partner Steve O’Neill was pleasantly surprised and said it really suited me. I went into the Hospice to show my colleagues and they were also blown away by it.

“Our dog Eva didn’t flinch when she saw my new look and just wagged her tail.

“I’ve had a lot of support from people at work who understand why I’ve done it because of the patients we care for.

After ….Elaine is congratulated by daughter Jade.

“One lady I’d cared for of similar age, with children and a dog like me, had quite an effect on me. Sadly, she didn’t have any choice whether she lost her hair.

“I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Elaine has easily beaten her initial fundraising target, raising more than £1,700 so far.

*  To support Elaine visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Elaine-Taylor40

New Hospice@Home car

Nurses are now driving round in a second car to further help Hospice @Home patients.

The Ford Kuga was bought thanks to the generosity of the What Women Want fundraisers who also purchased the first vehicle for the service.

Hospice @Home has been an outstanding success since its launch in 2017, with the two cars enabling staff to get out and about more easily.

The latest car – also painted in the light blue Hospice colour -is a hybrid in line with the Hospice’s environmental initiative.

Both cars were supplied at discounted rates by Ford dealers Sidney Jackson and Son, long-standing supporters of the Hospice.

Healthcare assistants Rachel Barker (left) and Elaine Taylor with the new Hospice @Home car.

The charity’s green push includes a new appeal to buy solar panels. It is also reducing its carbon footprint in other ways via its garden and kitchen produce.

The five WWW girls raised £27,000 from a ball at Cranage Hall in November, a total generously match-funded by one of their close friends and benefactors.

Those donations funded the latest car and decoration of a lounge for patients and families.

Hospice @Home manager Tess Cleaver:  “We can’t thank the What Women Want group enough for yet another amazing donation.

“With two cars, both kindly funded by the group, we can reach more patients more easily and that makes a huge difference to us.

“We cover such a wide geographical area in East Cheshire and moving between homes can be quite complex, but this extra car simplifies our task. We’re extremely grateful.”

Newest member of Hospice @Home team

Senior nurse Sue Milligan is the latest addition to the specialist East Cheshire Hospice team which provides patients with palliative care in the comfort of their own home.

Sue – known as Millie – has joined the charity’s Hospice @Home team as a sister after spending her entire career in health care.

That vast medical experience further strengthens a Hospice service widely acclaimed for its vital role within the Macclesfield community and beyond.

Sue previously worked for NHS Cheshire Commissioning Group as an individual commissioning nurse.

She assessed patients in community settings and advised on whether they met the criteria for continuing health care, a role which brought her into contact with the Hospice.

Sue Milligan who is part of the Hospice @Home team at East Cheshire Hospice.

Sue said: “The contact increased over the years and I was lucky enough to be involved in discussions to expand the Hospice @Home service. This was the catalyst to finally make the leap to become part of the team.

“I’m enjoying being part of the development and expansion of the service and the team have made me most welcome, just as they did  when on the end of a phone. I hope to make a small but positive difference here.”

Sue’s partner Iggy worked at Macclesfield District General Hospital as paediatric consultant for 16 years before retiring a couple of years ago.

The couple, who have three children, moved to Macclesfield 18 years ago when Sue switched from paediatrics to become a district nurse.

She later joined the hospital as part of the integrated discharge team, assisting patients to either access rehab units, return home, or stay in an appropriate community setting.

The Hospice @Home service has had a huge impact since it was launched in October, 2017, initially covering ‘out-of-hours’ and weekends before expanding early last year to cover 24 hours a day.

Essentially, it extends the end-of-life care provided in the Hospice inpatient unit into people’s own homes, thereby reducing unwanted hospital admissions.

The service provides hands-on medical care, psychological support, symptom management, end-of-life care and care after death.

Nurses and co-ordinators work closely with other health care agencies, including GPs, district nurses, Macmillan and Marie Curie.

That collaboration is seen as key to the success of Hospice @Home which has been well received by patients, their families and carers.

* For more details on Hospice @Home visit eastcheshirehospice.org.uk.

Hospice @Home during lockdown

Caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses in their own homes has been ‘challenging and emotional’ during Covid-19, according to a senior nurse at East Cheshire Hospice.

Tess Cleaver is manager of the charity’s Hospice @Home team which has made home visits during the pandemic.

While the country was on lockdown, her dedicated team were on the front-line of health care visiting patients as usual.

Gloves, aprons, water-resistant face masks and visors have been worn at all times by the 12 specialist nurses and highly-trained healthcare assistants.

Following rapidly changing guidance on PPE presented a challenge in itself.

The Hospice @Home team did have to suspend its services for two weeks early in May so further precautions could be put in place.

Tess said: “It’s been challenging and closing the service temporarily was difficult. We didn’t take the decision lightly, but it was made by the senior team to ensure we were operating in the safest possible way.

“That was our guiding factor and without that adjustment we’d have struggled to function as normal.

“We had great support from other health care providers and family members were amazing. They understood that we were doing everything to make sure we kept their loved ones safe.”

From left, East Cheshire Hospice @Home manager Tess Cleaver and healthcare assistants Kim Lamb and Karen Buckley.


Hospice @Home now covers 24 hours a day – it had operated overnight and at weekends until April.  The extension was planned before coronavirus.

Tess added: “We’ve had to make a lot of changes and be adaptable and the response from Hospice staff has been fantastic. Everyone has pulled together.

“Staff have been flexible, helping out in other Hospice roles when we shut down, and I can’t thank them enough.

“When the virus started some patients were scared. They wanted us to get in touch, but didn’t want staff visiting to reduce footfall in their homes.

“Then when they saw us and district nurses wearing the PPE that was re-assuring.

“Staff might finish visiting at 8 pm during the Clap for Carers and that was touching. It was lovely for the clinical staff on the inpatient ward to receive a visit from Macclesfield police one Thursday.

“One staff member had to move away from a relative who was in the high risk group. It’s been emotional at times and we’ve all had to make difficult decisions.”

Some staff tested positive for coronavirus and guidelines were followed immediately. Thankfully, those affected are now recovered.

Meet Tess Cleaver, Hospice @Home Manager

Tess Cleaver decided she wanted to work at East Cheshire Hospice when she attended an open day there five years ago.

She was a hospital staff nurse at the time and highly recommends working for the hospice which has now created two more nursing vacancies for qualified nurses.

Tess said: “The experience I gained as a hospital staff nurse was so valuable and I wouldn’t have done what I do here without that background.

“I applied here and was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time position on the inpatient unit as a staff nurse. When I attended an open day I thought this is the place where I’d like to be.

“I’ve never looked back and it’s a unique place to place to work. Everyone who works here, whether on the inpatient unit or in the Hospice @Home team, feels privileged to be here.”

Tess, who is now the Hospice @Home Manager, added: “We focus on holistic care and time is allowed for all duties, especially those patient-facing tasks. Everyone has heard of the Hospice and has some kind of experience, whether in a professional capacity or as a volunteer.

“The Hospice is also committed to developing staff through training, education and experience and the support from managers and colleagues is something you’ll never experience anywhere else.”