Dougie Mac is proudly celebrating the 20th anniversary of an innovative service which has enabled thousands of patients to spend their final days at home.
2nd April 2021 marks two decades since Hospice at Home was launched thanks to a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Jeanette McCartney, now Director of Care, recalls starting her time at Dougie Mac as Hospice at Home Team Leader; “We saw increasing numbers of patients preferring to receive care at home rather than at the hospice. We wanted to offer our patients more choice surrounding the care they received.
“Families accept us in to their homes at a very emotional period of their lives. Staff and families often say we arrive as strangers and leave as friends.”
Over the past 20 years, Hospice at Home has provided a personalised package of care for more than 6,900 local people; as well as emotional support for many families.
Claire Jeffries and her brother, Howard Moore remember how comforting the service was when the team cared for their dad John back in 2003.
“My dad was diagnosed with incurable kidney cancer in 2002 which had spread throughout his entire body. Dad wanted to be at home and my mum vowed to care for him herself until we were introduced to the Hospice at Home service.
“Initially the Hospice at Home healthcare support workers just visited for a couple of hours at a time to give my mum a break. As dad’s needs increased, they came more frequently and stayed late into the night if we needed. They just slotted into our everyday lives and became part of the family.
“They all made us feel incredibly relaxed and calm during such a distressing time but it never felt like they were there just to do a job – they really did care about us.
“Having dad at home meant we could all be together with no restrictions. We shared special moments that wouldn’t have been possible without Hospice at Home.
“You can’t begin to imagine how brilliant the team are at supporting patients and their families at such a traumatic time.”
Hospice at Home is now comprised of 18 members of staff providing care 365 days a year to patients and their families across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.
Janet Hackney and Dianne Riley are two of the original 11 Hospice at Home Support Workers still part of the team today.
Janet said: “People think that this is a sad job but caring for patients and supporting their loved ones through their anxieties or worries is so rewarding. I have been welcomed by so many lovely families; each one so grateful for our support.”
Dianne said: “I feel so privileged that families allow me to be with their loved ones at such a difficult and personal time. I’ve met some beautiful people over the past 20 years and I hope I made a difference to a peaceful end.”
Hospice at Home is now a well-established element of Dougie Mac’s services funded through charitable donations from the local community.
Jeanette commented: “I would like to thank everyone involved over the years that have helped make Hospice at Home what it is today – a truly vital, and highly regarded service for local people and their families.”
Pictured: Jeanette McCartney and Dianne Riley at Dougie Mac