David Smith, Chief Executive of Teesside Hospice, gives an update on the challenges we face this winter, and how you can help.

I remember thinking this time last year that in 2022, once the critical phase of covid was over, life would settle back down into a more predictable routine. Could I have been any more wrong? 

This year has seen us celebrate forty years of providing hospice care for people across Teesside. It’s seen us find new ways of helping people through collaborations, like South Tees NHS. It’s seen us refocus our efforts on supporting emotional wellbeing, as well as physical healthcare. We’ve shared the joy of people returning to face-to-face support groups, whilst seeing those who benefit from the telephone and video support, which we started during the pandemic, and has now become a routine part of our work. We’ve cared for hundreds of people and their families in our Inpatient Unit, Wellbeing, Outreach, Counselling, and Lymphoedema Services. We’ve also shared the skills and knowledge of the hospice team by offering training placements, education sessions and clinical advice.

It’s fair to say that this year hasn’t been without its challenges. The ongoing covid restrictions have brought practical and emotional difficulties for the team, visitors and those who need our care. They’ve reduced, but the mask wearing and testing are still in place. With infection rates declining, hopefully it won’t be for much longer. We’re also starting to see the long-term impact of lockdowns on people’s health and wellbeing. Delayed diagnoses, late stage diagnoses, and the heart-breaking impact that has on people’s health. Our counselling service is supporting people whose loved ones died during covid, where they were unable to visit or have funerals in the way we would normally expect. The need to care for people experiencing this sort of trauma won’t go away quickly. The acute phase of the pandemic might thankfully be receding, but its impact on the hospice will be here for some time to come.

As a charitable hospice, we rely heavily on our community to support and fund the work that we do. Whilst we receive some money from the NHS, we need to raise almost £6000 every single day to deliver the care that we do. In usual times, this is a challenge. But right now, with rising costs for all of us, the challenge becomes greater every day. We’ve opened a new shop in Yarm and a café at the hospice to raise more funds. We’re doing all that we can to work more efficiently and reduce costs. But the reality is that without your support, Teesside Hospice simply wouldn’t exist. This hospice is facing a large financial deficit this year and we need you now more than ever.

From all of us here at the hospice – thank you – for your donations, your time and your support. Teesside is a special place with remarkable people. We’ve celebrated 40 years this year and I’m already looking forward to our half century.

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