Making a difference with Hospice Befrienders - East Cheshire Hospice

Making a difference with Hospice Befrienders

A befriender service is making a real difference to those who feel isolated towards the end of life.

The East Cheshire Hospice scheme has been popular since it was set up 18 months ago by the Hospice’s Volunteering Lead Helena Smith.

Helena said: “The befrienders service is for people receiving palliative care, approximately in the last year of life. It’s all about the person not being a patient – it’s about being them.

“We also support their carers, whether it’s so they can have a break, or as friendship and support for them – carers can really struggle too. It’s not for people with dementia, but we do have a similar service for them.

“We have about 30 befrienders. They’re amazing, utterly exceptional people and we’d like to recruit more. I’m so lucky to have so many.

Helena Smith, Volunteering Lead at East Cheshire Hospice.

“We’re serving people who are lonely and isolated and it’s about making connections and relationships.

“We’ve a nice range of befrienders, age wise and background wise, and as the role involves a couple of hours commitment a week it can often be fitted around work.

“A couple of our volunteers work full time and visit in the evenings. They’re few and far between, but there are ways and means.

“Importantly, they’re all helping people in their own community. People may not know what needs there are around them and the service runs best when it’s helping people in their communities.

Befrienders at East Cheshire Hospice.

“We match on personality. If you’re going to spend time together, I make sure you’re going to get on.”

Helena is happy to hear from patients and carers. Users do not need to be a Hospice patient to take part, they just need to be in the last year of life, and not have a dementia diagnosis.

She said: “We’re open for referrals. If anyone reading this article thinks it would help someone they know, then give me a call for a chat.

“This supports non-medical needs which are as vital as physical health.

“At the Hospice, we’re all about allowing people to be themselves despite their circumstances. While much of our care might require a more medical approach, this service is completely different to that.

“In at least half of cases where there is a carer, we end up supporting them quite intensively as well.”

* Call Helena on 01925 664984 or email hsmith@echospice.org.uk for more details.

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