St Christopher’s Hospice CARE

In our latest Guest Blog, it’s lovely to hear from the St Christopher’s Community Action team about the wonderful range of support and educational courses that St Christopher’s Hospice provides, both for carers and for others within the local community.

As a hospice, St Christopher’s is best known for the care and support it provides people at the end of life and their families. The Sydenham hospice has a broader remit than this too though. Just as whiteballoon describes itself as ‘a quiet space where people can reflect, gather their thoughts and make informed decisions’, so, in its Centre for Awareness and Response to End of Life, or CARE, St Christopher’s has a world class, state of the art facility designed to welcome all-comers, whether clinicians or carers.

It’s integral to the hospice’s commitment to extending quality palliative care to all, that it engages with health professionals with a compelling and challenging programme of courses and conferences, while also catering for the community on its doorstep by providing a place where everyone can visit to explore living with dying and loss.

Crucial to any centre of learning, is an awareness that it doesn’t have all the answers. The team at St Christopher’s is keenly aware of that. Even more importantly, they positively encourage people to tell them how to do things better. That’s key to the work of its Community Action programme to explore and improve experiences of end of life with local people, communities, groups and schools from across the five boroughs the hospice serves, as well as like-minded organisations. It’s about collaborating with communities, listening to people and understanding what it is they are experiencing and need.

So, what does this look like in practice and how is St Christopher’s CARE really engaging with the community?

An excellent example is the Loss and Legacy Workshops, designed for those who have experienced bereavement or want to know more about loss. These free, facilitated sessions include themed discussions where people can reflect on different aspects loss through group discussions, sharing experiences, activities and exercises.

The Caring for Carers course helps build the confidence and skills of people caring for someone with a life-limiting condition and provides the chance to share experiences with those in a similar situation.

It’s that common thread of peer-to-peer learning and support that runs through the heart of the Community Action projects run by St Christopher’s CARE and is particularly evident in the Bereavement Help Point. These regular sessions, run by trained volunteers with experience of supporting people through bereavement, are available throughout the week in libraries and other community hubs across South East London or online for those who’d prefer the virtual experience. The sessions enable members of the community to access a wide variety of services and also give a regular focus where the subject of death and bereavement is addressed openly and empathically in an informal setting.

St Christopher’s Hospice Bereavement Help Point Support Sessions

Whether it’s just dropping in a for a cup of tea and a chat once a week or participating in a shared hobby, Compassionate Neighbours can provide an all-important connection to the outside world for those living with a life-limiting condition. This network of volunteers is a great antidote to isolation and helps knit together communities.

For those people who might not feel like these projects or support groups quite cover their needs, CARE also runs a Community Support Hub. The Hub can offer one-to-one support from a volunteer or make introductions to a group that does suit that person’s particular needs.

For the really curious community members keen to discover more about what CARE has to offer, the bi-monthly Discovery Days on a Friday are a great opportunity to tour this accessible, multi-functional building and indeed the whole hospice as well as meet some of the key people delivering the services.

These Discovery Days are also run for professionals on alternate months so they can find out  about the huge variety of learning opportunities tailored to their needs. The diverse portfolio of communities of practice, conferences, practical skills training and even global professional networks means there’s something for every healthcare professional that shares St Christopher’s passion for palliative care. Here’s the full calendar of professional learning opportunities. 

All in all, CARE is delivering on its brief: to raise awareness of and respond to end of life. Discover everything it has to offer here.

Thanks to the Community Action Team for highlighting the wonderful support and care that St Christopher’s provides for local communities.

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