Since 2008, CABAHS has contributed the income from June & July’s monthly meeting plant sales to the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice in Abbey Wood. From 1999 to 2008 CABAHS had a plant stall at the Hospice Fun Day on Bostall Heath. Ron, our present CABAHS Treasurer, was one of the original Trustees and played a significant role in its development. Ron has written a book, well worth reading, entitled “A Cottage in the Woods : Greenwich & Bexley Cottage Hospital” (1994) about its history and the challenges, trials and tribulations it faced in its early days.
As Chair of a local GP practice Patients Participation Group, I recently arranged for two of its staff to come and give a talk to our members, followed soon after by a visit by our members to the Hospice itself. Having an academic Medical Anthropology background, including an interest in older people’s health, like our members I was extremely impressed. I thought CABAHS members might like to know how their donations are spent and some further information about what it does nowadays and the services it provides.
The project was launched in 1985 by Pat Jeavons and Don Sturrock. The site, on two acres of land, was given to them by the CoOp for £1. The Hospice took its first patients in 1994. For the general public, hospices tend to have a negative image as a place where you go to die. But hospices have moved on a long way from their early days. Nowadays, whilst the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice retains a small number of beds for end of life, the majority stay no more than two weeks. Much of its work is in the community delivering palliative and respite care for people with long term terminal illnesses, their carers and families in their own homes, in care homes, at the hospice day hospice and in hospital. It offers a holistic approach that goes beyond physical needs, offering spiritual, social and psychological care. Where possible it aims to provide care as early as possible in a patient’s terminal illness, so that better knowing the patient’s needs and circumstances, it can provide the necessary support and so make their life and end of life easier. This makes it more likely the patient is able to die at home, which is often their preferred choice. The Hospice also provides support and training for health professionals so they can deliver high quality, individualised and co-ordinated care to the terminally ill.
At the moment the Hospice cares for over 2,500 patients a year. It provides care for those aged eighteen and over, mainly cancer patients. About 10% of its Greenwich patients are referred by their GPs, but most are referred by a Palliative Care Unit which it now runs at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. The Hospice also runs a Day Hospice three days a week where patients can go to discuss their problems and get help. There is also a café and separate eating area for carers.
The free, wide-ranging services and support it provides are costly. For example, it employs approximately 180 staff. Only a third of the Hospice’s income comes from the NHS. It is very dependent on retail sales, legacies and voluntary donations. So if any of you are feeling generous, you can donate knowing that it is for a very good cause and the money is well spent.
Hospice: 185 Bostall Hill, SE2 0GB 0208 312 2244
Fundraising: 0208 319 9230 communityhospice.org.uk