Living well service

Over the past 18 months, the team at St Barnabas House in Worthing have been constantly adapting their services to meet the changing needs of their patients, working tirelessly to ensure they can continue providing hospice care throughout the pandemic. One example of this is the new Living Well Service, which has developed out of the St Barnabas ‘Day Hospice’ and hopes to reach more people in the local community sooner after their diagnosis, and help those living with serious life-limiting conditions to live life well.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year, St Barnabas House were quick to respond to the situation. In addition to adding five new beds to their In-Patient Unit (IPU) to increase capacity and help support local NHS hospitals, the hospice’s community team have been caring for more people in their own homes – enabling more patients to leave hospital to receive end of life care at home with their loved ones around them.

But the changes didn’t stop there. The Day Hospice has always been a vital part of St Barnabas’s care offering for outpatients – from physiotherapy sessions to art activities and socialising. When the Day Hospice had to close in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the team started working on a new model, to ensure they could continue to deliver services to meet the needs of patients and their families.

“St Barnabas House has remained open every day during the pandemic providing vital care both in the hospice’s IPU and people’s own homes. But we’re very aware that many of our outpatients really miss being able to visit the Day Hospice,” explains Ellie Hayter, Clinical Director at St Barnabas.

“The Day Hospice provided a chance for people to interact and socialise with others in a similar situation, enjoy some activities, perhaps try some complementary therapies. Help people to be themselves.”

In spring 2021, St Barnabas introduced a new Living Well Service – an evolution of the Day Hospice – initially offering sessions online due to COVID-19 restrictions. From chair yoga to breathlessness management, the sessions offer practical advice, tips and tools to help patients feel emotionally and physically better.

“The Living Well Service is about supporting people to live life well, their way,” says Ellie. “We want to provide a joyful and uplifting atmosphere for patients and help people to live their best life and enjoy the things they love doing – in some cases that means helping them to find the ‘me’ again after a life-changing diagnosis. Our skilled staff and volunteers aim to work with patients, and those close to them, helping them to manage the challenges of living with serious life-limiting conditions and be proactive in living well.”

This innovation in care aims to enhance the support available for patients recently diagnosed or requiring help with early symptoms, as well as being somewhere to signpost people so that they can receive a tailored programme of support. The team are already delivering a selection of online and face-to-face options, with the number and type of sessions expected to grow over time.

“Living Well is very much in a concept phase at the moment,” says Ellie. “We’re looking to raise awareness of what we can offer and engage in discussion so that we can build the programme over time to meet the needs of patients.

“We’ve already started a six-week wellbeing programme, sharing tips about nutrition, managing common symptoms, how to keep moving, and managing money. Living Well is all about helping our patients to live life well – improving your quality of life by working with you and supporting you.”

One of the ways St Barnabas intends to develop the Living Well Service is to form new partnerships with local organisations to provide opportunities for patients. The first example of this is a collaboration with Highdown Gardens – a unique 8.5-acre chalk garden near the hospice, which can provide a space for green-fingered patients to spend time enjoying something they love.

Find out about our Living Well service