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Hospice Branches Out

Having been serving our communities for the past 30 years, we’re now extending our reach further than ever before. St Teresa’s Hospice chief executive Jane Bradshaw reflects on the year ahead.

 LAUGHTER echoes around the car park as the troupe of happy helpers grab a coffee and a bacon butty before setting off on their annual mission. Rotary Club volunteers and St Teresa’s Hospice staff descend on mission control, Sherwoods in Darlington, before the teams head off to collect unwanted Christmas trees and raise much needed funds for the coffers.

It is the very best of starts to the New Year. At St Teresa’s Hospice there is no time or inclination for January blues or seasonal affective disorder. Running a hospice is a serious business approached with an ethos of good humour, optimism and positivity.

I love January because it is the one time of the year where most of us return to work re-energised and we use that dynamism to plan for the year ahead.

Not a day goes by without us addressing how best to improve services to our community even further. After 30 years, the hospice staff are extremely good at what they do but there is never room for complacency.

The rapid development of medical science means we have to be at the vanguard of care. Financial support from the community, like the wonderful Rotary Club and a host of local schools, organisations and individuals, allows us to remain independent and therefore innovative, and always effective in providing care for the people of Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

So what can we expect of 2017? More of the same, only better. As we move towards a 2020 vision, every single department is currently assessing every aspect of its operations and how they can be improved. It is fascinating to see the responses so far, the commitment, and the new ideas.

More in-patients than ever are using our stunning new 10-bed unit, which shows the peerless quality of care the hospice movement can provide.

Equally important are the community services, including the volunteer visitor service, rapid response team and hospice at home initiatives, which take our knowhow and skills, empathy and support to where they are needed most, people’s homes.

St Teresa’s may have started as a facility for Darlington but it is now truly regional, fulfilling a crucial role in an area north of Harrogate to south of Durham.

Satellite services in Elizabeth House, the former St John of God Hospital in Scorton, provide a mini St Teresa’s in North Yorkshire, the Richmondshire Day Hospice. Supported by driving services, this brings relief to a rural area where people can feel even more isolated than in town.

Physiotherapy, complementary therapies, nursing consultations and a host of activities at the North Yorkshire satellite support patients and their families at challenging times of their lives to great effect.

Our network of shops also serves to increase St Teresa’s profile across the region and spread the message about our work. The newly opened Thirsk shop is thriving, bolstering a North Yorkshire presence that also includes stores at Northallerton, Leyburn and Richmond.

Along with our shops in Darlington, Shildon and Barnard Castle, they not only provide the movement with essential funds but also act as vital ambassadors, increasing the understanding of St Teresa’s in the community.

Our Retail on the Road pilot scheme takes business directly to the community by setting up shops ‘pop-up’ style in the windows of un-let commercial premises, in church halls and in community centres. This new and exciting venture offers us a means of increasing our trading figures by bringing excellent value goods to our customers, from exquisite restored furniture to top end designer clothing.

This year will also see an exciting development open in Darlington, a superstore on McMullen Road, which will act as a donation station, storage and restoration area, with unrivalled access and passing trade, where we will be able to showcase our stock of incredible furniture.

Fundraising is always a challenge and I feel very fortunate that we are in direct contact with the majority of our supporters and we have a fundraising team that works tirelessly all year round to come up with a host of events, including the annual Burns Supper at Mercure Darlington King’s Head, on January 21 and a volunteer induction session at the hospice on January 23.

St Teresa’s will also remain a community resource providing rewarding work and a social network for countless volunteers, work experience for students and an invaluable insight to anyone thinking of working in medicine or social care.

The input and feedback we receive from young people inspires us. They are all amazed at the cheerful place St Teresa’s always is, the friendliness of staff, the air of positivity and professionalism.

This optimism is created by the people behind the hospice and the active support of its trustees, led by chairman Harry Byrne, who back a vision prepared to take calculated risks, with the excellent advice of the finance sub-committee, headed by Tony Luckett, of accountants Clive Owen.

We have a great team of diverse and enthusiastic followers, all moving in the same direction, with excellent care at the very core of the Hospice’s existence. For me, as chief executive, it is an immense privilege to serve the patients and families cared for by St Teresa’s Hospice and to work with this fun-loving, caring and dynamic team of staff and volunteers.