Safestore is proud to work in partnership with several carefully-selected charities whose aims are varied but all very worthy of support. As part of our charity interview blog series, we have been speaking to St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, and St Christopher’s Bromley in Kent, which work tirelessly to provide compassion and support for those requiring palliative, end-of-life care.
Where it all began
St Christopher’s Hospice was established in 1967 by Dame Cicely Saunders, who is widely regarded as the founder of modern palliative care. Before then, patients suffering from incurable illnesses were often treated in hospitals, where it was considered inappropriate to offer medical treatment or even painkillers, since those elements of care were only for those who could be cured. Alternatively, people with terminal illnesses were cared for by their families at home, or in the few available hospices, where nurses delivered end-of-life care, though not in a way that we would recognise today.
St Christopher’s was unique in that it focused on finding new ways to alleviate pain and suffering and help patients to live their final days in peace and comfort. The hospice was the vanguard in a new, pioneering type of hospice, offering truly holistic palliative and medicinal care; it has remained at the forefront of research, education and clinical care development ever since.
Over time, thanks to work by researchers under the guidance of Dame Saunders, care at the hospice evolved. It strove to incorporate cutting-edge use of medicines to ease physical pain, recognise and treat depression and anxiety by talking to patients and their families and answering their questions (to ease their psychological pain), and ease the feelings of guilt or fear of what happens after death held by so many patients (thereby addressing spiritual pain).
Though initially an inpatient hospice, St Christopher’s quickly extended to provide care to patients in their own homes and communities – the first hospice to do so. St Christopher’s Bromley is a newly-established care coordination centre that aims to deliver a seamless care package to patients and their families.
Services available through St Christopher’s
St Christopher’s has built on its early work and continues to be at the forefront of palliative care, still meeting the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of its patients. It aims to provide the best care available for terminally-ill patients and their loved ones. This is supported by the hospice’s ongoing research and teaching of cutting-edge palliative care methods and ideas. Using regular forums and questionnaires, the hospice ensures that as well as clinical research into new methods, existing methods are continually evaluated and assessed to ensure that patients and their families are happy with the care provided.
The core aim of the hospice is to provide caring, sensitive and timely support and medicinal care to those who have a limited time to live, affording them dignity in their final days, weeks or months. All care is tailored to the individual and each year over 6,000 people across the South East of London benefit from it at home or at the hospice.
This level of care comes at a price – it costs in excess of £20 million per year to maintain the services. The services are free to the patients and their families as St Christopher relies on the kindness and generosity of its supporters given through fundraising events through each year, and of those who choose to spend money in or donate items to any of their 19 high street shops.
St Christopher’s has always been and is still internationally renowned for its pioneering work and as well as delivering the highest quality of care to its patients, it offers a wealth of education opportunities to the public, medical students from King’s College London and St George’s Hospital, and schools.
How to find out more
There are numerous ways that you could support St Christopher’s
: donations of time or money are always very welcome and appreciated; there are regular fundraising events and even a lottery. With your support, St Christopher’s can continue to care for those who do not have much time left and to continue to develop and improve methods of palliative care – more details of how you can get involved are available on their website.
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