It's Hospice Care Week and we are celebrating the work of our amazing team, who make a difference to the lives of our patients and their families every day.
Meet Jo, our GCP Team Leader at the Hospice. We caught up with her for coffee and a chat.
Jo is the Greenwich Care Partnership (GCP) Team Leader at the Hospice. She’s been at the Hospice for 21 years and is a trained nurse. As team leader, Jo’s role is a busy one and includes making the arrangements for palliative patients who have been fast tracked by their GP or are leaving the care of the hospital, to go home. This also includes arranging care for people at home.
In a typical day, you might hear Jo and her team helping patients with any issues they may have – like sorting out equipment, medication or pain relief. Or she might be trying to find vacancies in local nursing homes or relocating patients to nursing homes outside of the borough, to be closer to members of their family. Advocating for the patient, respecting their wishes and supporting them to have a positive end of life experience, is at the very heart of what Jo and her team does.
Why do you love your job and how does it make a difference?
“I love being able to support patients and families. Home is where most people want to be. We support them to stay at home, if that is their wish, keeping them comfortable and supporting their loved ones too. It’s reassuring for relatives to know there is someone coming in daily, or who is at the end of the phone line who can help if there are problems. I always treat the family how I would want mine to be treated. They are all someone’s family.”
Can you give any examples of things that you or your team have done to make a difference?
“It’s small things that can make a difference. There was a lady under our care who had always wanted to go to Hawaii, so we helped her grandson to throw the best Hawaiian party for her. We’ve moved furniture around so that a bed-bound couple could be in the same room together and we bought Christmas forward for one patient who had young children. The team went in and helped her to get ready for her Christmas party, doing her hair and makeup. We will do whatever we can to support the wishes of a patient.”
What would it be like if your role didn’t exist?
“Families and patients might feel alone to deal with everything, and that can be overwhelming. It’s so important for families to realise that they are not on their own. It’s natural for people to be anxious at the idea of taking on the responsibility of caring for a loved one at the end of their life. I say to families if there are problems give me a call. Some people ring just to hear a friendly voice, and that’s fine!”
For so many families, the GCP team are a godsend. Without their support, many families have told us that they would’ve been at a loss during their greatest time of need. It can also be a relief to know that they don’t have to be the carer. “Lots of people want to do it and we are happy for that to happen, but there can come a point where they can’t do it anymore and I always say ‘let us take over and you go back to being the son, daughter, husband or the wife again, and make the most of the time that’s left without taking on that extra burden’.”
What would you like people to know about the Hospice?
“Hospice care is not all doom and gloom, we are all smiles and laughter.”
Who are the Greenwich Care Partnership (GCP) and what do they do?
The GCP team look after fast track patients in the Greenwich borough. A fast track patient is someone who is within the last 12 weeks of life. They’re the friendly faces who care for patients who have chosen to die at home.
Wherever a patient chooses to receive their care, the team work hard to ensure that the wishes of the patient and their family are listened to and so often, they help families to create those special memories with their loved one.