One of our wonderful Inpatient Unit Sisters Anne Jones has worked at Thames Hospice for 15 years. Anne shares her treasured memories of our Pine Lodge building, and her thoughts on our move to the new hospice.
What is your favourite memory of Pine Lodge?
One of my favourite memories was when Her Majesty The Queen visited Thames Hospice in 2013 to commemorate 25 years of dedicated hospice care for our local community. I had the prestigious role of guiding her Majesty around the Inpatient Unit where she spent time talking to patients, staff and volunteers. I remember feeling extremely nervous and in the morning we had to have several practice runs with security officers and cameras around every corner! It was a very proud time for everyone and the Queen was able to see first-hand the vital service the Hospice provides to patients and families.
What moments will you treasure the most from your time at Pine Lodge?
The memories created here take on a profound meaning for me personally and, as a nurse. It was here at Pine Lodge I took my first step towards a career in palliative and end of life care. Pine Lodge, our patients, families and staff have taught me so much over the years. I still remain passionate about my role and I’ve met so many fantastic people. I have been touched by many patients’ stories and have been privileged to have shared so many “end of life journeys”.
Within these walls I have worked with a brilliant team who are passionate about what they do and driven by the values and ethos of the Hospice. They have been committed to delivering compassionate high quality care together with our highly skilled doctors and wider multi-professional team.
I have met some incredible colleagues and made wonderful friends. Our volunteers have also been vital to Pine Lodge in helping to deliver high quality care. They have played a massive part in making the experience at Pine Lodge a welcoming one for both patients and families and looking after the nurses on shift. Over the years we have had exciting visits from musicians, TV celebrities, Royals and even a Prime Minister!
What will you miss about Pine Lodge?
Many patients and families have passed through the doors of Pine Lodge. Patients have often commented on their initial fear of admission to a hospice however, once through the doors they experienced a relaxed ambience of calm and warmth. This was exactly how I felt coming in on my very first shift 15 years ago. Pine Lodge holds many memories both happy and sad. I have cared for some of my own nursing colleagues here and, it was a challenging time for all concerned, however the camaraderie of staff is amazing and it’s that togetherness that has made Pine Lodge a “special place”.
Of course there has been sadness but that is only a part of it. There has also been a lot of humour, laughter, celebration, togetherness, acceptance and healing within the walls of Pine Lodge. We have celebrated weddings, anniversaries, Christmases and birthdays alongside Light Up a Life services for those who have lost loved ones. It was at Pine lodge that I joined the choir and had the privilege of singing on a CD “Stand Together” as part of the UK Hospices choir. I have trekked to Nepal and skydived with the red devils and it was only through Thames hospice that I was able to experience these challenges.
A poignant memory was that of a patient at the end of her life who wanted to say goodbye to her horse. We spoke to the family and the horse was brought to the Hospice through the car park and back garden and we wheeled her bed outside so she could touch her beloved horse for the last time. She cried with joy and so did most of the Hospice team. It was such a touching moment. We have also held weddings with all the trimmings to make it a special day for terminally ill patients and their families.
What elements of your job do you find challenging in the existing Hospice?
At the moment the most challenging element is the lack of space. The building, facilities and surrounding environment no longer meet the needs of our community. If we want to reach everyone who could benefit from our care now and in the future we need more space. Families want to be close to their loved ones and comfortable and there is very little space at the moment. Some patients are nursed in a bay of 4 beds so having single rooms would provide more dignity and respect for our patients and their families.
You and your team were really involved in the development of the Inpatient Unit wings? What things were most important to you at the new hospice?
Patient choice was very important. Everything from controlling the lighting, to the clinical equipment hidden from view to allow a homelier environment. Space for families to stay in the room with their loved ones and areas to eat together as a family. Making the most of the views out to the lake, bringing the outside into the hospice. The colours within the patient rooms and the hospice are associated with feelings of calm and peacefulness. The natural light in the rooms contribute to the patients feeling of wellbeing and connectedness.
There will be state of the art equipment to care for our patients and the nurses are really excited about the transition to the new building and providing care in such a beautiful space.
How will the new hospice make a difference for you and your nursing teams in caring for our patients and their families?
Carefully designed family rooms will enable staff to support patients and families in a respectful and sensitive manner and offer families a quiet private space in the midst of a busy wing/clinical area. The space and views from each wing will have a direct impact on patient and staff wellbeing. Our services will expand at the new hospice and we will be able to reach many more people in our community.
What will you be most looking forward to?
I am really excited about the outside space and views to the lake! We will have a fabulous therapeutic outside space for patient’s families and staff having direct contact with nature and fresh air which is so important to our patients. This will be a tranquil relaxing environment enhancing the mental wellbeing of patients’ families, staff and volunteers.
To be able to give patients quality of life in a place that feels like their own home, more open space which will allow for more privacy and dignity where we will continue to provide exceptional care is so rewarding.
What do you think the new hospice will mean for our patients and their loved one?
The new hospice has been designed to be a welcoming place, creating a calming and therapeutic environment with a strong connection into the gardens and views of the lake. The design of the patients’ rooms allows patients loved ones to spend precious time together and that is so important. Our new hospice will enable us to reach out to more local people with the quality end-of-life care they desperately need and deserve. The new hospice will increase the amount of beds we can offer those facing the end of their life, but also expand our community, counselling and therapies teams as well as our day therapy services.
The gift of time is precious. We all know it, but this really hits home when you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Suddenly, the daily routines of life fade into the background and the important parts of life become our focus.
We hope all those who have supported us raising funds for our much needed hospice will continue to support us.
We are leaving behind our building, however the memories of those cared for at Pine lodge will live on in the foundations of our new hospice in Bray.