Since launching in April 2019, more than 4,475 patients and their families in Great Yarmouth and Waveney have been supported by the free specialist palliative care provided by the joint partnership of St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice and East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH).
Typically living with conditions such as cancer, heart failure, chronic lung diseases – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and neurological disorders, these patients have received free care through the partnership’s varied, specialist palliative care provision available at Beccles Hospital, in the community and through the service’s 24-hour advice line, OneCall.
One local resident who receives support from this service is 68-year-old, Gail Palmer, who lives in Oulton Broad, Suffolk.
“After I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, the hospital told my husband, Robert, and I about the support available from St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice,” explained Gail, who has been attending Beccles Hospital, since January 2023, to receive support from the St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice’s Community Care Unit service.
“When I first told my friends and family that I would be receiving support from the hospice, they were all initially dubious. As we had the misconception hospices meant you were going to die, but St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice’s Community Care Unit has brought me to life again and is helping me live with cancer.”
Gail’s husband, Robert Palmer, added: “From the very first moment, they made us feel at ease. The Community Care Unit and the hospice’s 24/7 support line, OneCall, give us such reassurance and help take pressure off me, as I look after my wife.
“With my wife’s care, I had no idea if I was doing it right or incorrectly. However, from visiting the Community Care Unit, the staff have given me guidance and I have also been able to meet other people who are in similar positions, supporting their partners.
“This has really benefitted me mentally, in knowing we are not the only ones living in this situation, and has also helped me better support Gail.”
Gail said: “The Community Care Unit nurses are fantastic people. They treat you as a person and not just as a patient and they go out of their way to support you and your family.
“We attend the Community Care Unit once a week and every visit is full of smiles and giggles with familiar faces. They have become more like friends to Robert and I, and we look forward to seeing them and feel safe knowing they are always at the end of the phone if we need them.
“There are a range of services I have used at the Community Care Unit, including counselling, which has been a great support emotionally, as well as their relaxation sessions, which the staff have recorded for me so I can do these at home too.
“Since my diagnosis, the hardest thing for me has been the loss of my independence, but the Community Care Unit has really helped me with this. They are such a godsend and I just love seeing them all.
“Thanks to St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice, I feel a lot more comfortable and safe knowing they are here to support us whenever we need them, no matter what happens. The hospice means so much to us both now.
“Before attending St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice’s Community Care Unit, we felt like we were facing our situation on our own, but their compassionate support has made us realise that this is not the case.
“If you are living in a similar situation, please do reach out to St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice as they can make such a difference and they really do care.
“I just cannot explain how grateful we are to the hospice. They have made me realise I am not dying, but I am living life differently now and I have the full support of their brilliant team to help me achieve this.”
For more information about the partnership’s services in Great Yarmouth and Waveney visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/how-we-can-help/hospice-care/great-yarmouth_and-waveney.
To learn more about the Community Care Unit service visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/how-we-can-help/hospice-care/community-care-unit/.
To contact the 24-hour specialist palliative care advice line, OneCall, call 0800 567 0111.