“The hospice looked after my Mam and my sister as if they were their own family. Their care is simply incredible.”
Mam had dementia – and was going downhill during the pandemic. The hospice started to come out and visit her; the amazing Gemma would go once a week and do Mam’s hair, her nails, make her some lunch. Mam loved it – she was all “Gemma did this” and “Gemma did that“ when my sister Lyn and I went round to see her! When Mam got much worse the hospice helped us to find a nursing home. Even then, the hospice staff would pop round and visit – and talk to her through the window, because of all the restrictions. After Mam passed we went to tend her grave – and found beautiful fresh flowers and a note from the staff there.
Mam died last summer – and then, just as we were getting over that – Lyn was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had chemotherapy, which seemed to work at first – but the cancer came back. The worst thing for Lyn was her breathing, she really struggled. So, Kim at the hospice (probably the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met) organised oxygen to go into Lyn’s house. They got her into the hospice each week and gave her lots of lovely treatments to ease Lyn’s condition – aromatherapy, reflexology and massage.
Lyn had to stop work, so the hospice team helped her to apply for the benefits and support she was entitled to, they filled in every form for her. At the end, Lyn went into YAB – and Emma from the hospice went in and made sure she was comfortable, right up to the end.
The hospice helped Lyn to understand and come to terms with the fact that she was at the end of her life. Thanks to them, I was able to have a conversation with her about her wishes after her death. Lyn lived in Spain for many years, her husband is buried out there. Lyn asked for her ashes to be scattered over there – and so we’ll be going out there this autumn.
I know the hospice holds their Light up a Life service each year. Lyn’s birthday was at the end of November – and I don’t honestly know if I’ll be able to go, it’s still so close. But I do know that I’ll never forget what Hospice of the Valleys has done for me and my family these last three years, how lucky we are to have this charity looking after us. I really hope you’ll support them, so they can look after others as wonderfully as they looked after Mam and Lyn. Thank you.
“At Candour Talent, we take pride in our partnership with Hospice of the Valleys. By supporting their incredible organization as our Charity of the Year, we have experienced numerous benefits that align perfectly with our values. Our collaboration has provided us with increased visibility in the community and our brand becomes synonymous with compassion and social responsibility as we actively support the hospice’s fundraising campaigns and initiatives. Through our partnership, we have the privilege of bringing about significant change and impact in the community. By supporting the hospice’s mission to provide vital care to patients and families, we are making a tangible difference in people’s lives. This shared goal has boosted morale among our employees and encouraged team building activities, as we work together towards a common purpose. By aligning ourselves with such an esteemed organisation, we enhance our own reputation as a socially conscious and community-driven recruitment specialist. Together Candour Talent and Hospice of the Valleys are making a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and families in our community.”
Tricia Scott, Operations Director, Candour Talent
Candour Talent – What they did!
Natalie’s Mam Kerry was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and was doing well until the cancer returned in her spine and liver. This is when the Hospice became more involved in her care and also continued to support the family after Kerry sadly passed away in September 2022.
“Mam found it hugely beneficial and reassuring to have the support of the Hospice nurse, she was able to answer all her questions. The difference the Hospice made is that they were able to offer reassurance and breakdown what was happening to Mam. It was a very difficult time, especially the final few days when she came home to die and we were still in shock, but having the Hospice checking in everyday was so important to us all” Natalie recalls.
Following Kerry’s death Natalie attended 1-2-1 bereavement and group sessions at the Hospice, “Going to the group and speaking to others who were going through a similar experience was so beneficial. After Mam died I felt I had to do everything, but I learned it was ok to slow down”.
“It was so important to our family having the support of the Hospice, they were able to break things down and allow us to understand what was happening. I would say to anyone, please support the Hospice with purchasing raffle tickets, you would hope never to need their services but are so grateful for them in a time of need, just like my Mam and our family”.
With every ticket you buy or sell, you will be helping us to continue being there to support patients like Kerry and her daughter Natalie, now and in the future.
Your generosity will enable us to continue being there, making sure anyone with a life-limiting illness across Blaenau Gwent has access to the best possible care and support, wherever and whenever they need it. Allowing them to spend quality time with their loved ones, making precious memories.
Rachel our Registered Manager for our Hospice at home service took part in The Big stay awake this year, to shine a light on the amazing team who give up a nights sleep most nights to support patients and their families. Lilly who is 9 and her BFF Amelia who is 9 also took part this year, here’s how their night went.
“We started our night off with pizzas from dominos which always goes down well and as a special treat for the night ahead.
We had a very busy night and had lots of activities planned. The girls did marvellous and even had to nudge me to keep me awake.
We did several craft activities which included:
At midnight we did feel the earthquake and at first thought something had gone into the side of the house!
We also played several games including:
Some time was also spent playing with their toy horses and stables, and playing fortnight on their Nintendo switch.
During the night we also received a number of messages on what’s app from our HCA’s who were working that night praising them for what they were doing, and we also shared a number of photos with them. I think they were envious of our snack table.
At 7 am the girls then fell asleep on the blow up bed I set up for them in the living room, sleeping until mid-day”
Thank you Rachel, Lilly and Amelia.
Over the past 5 weeks the CARIAD Group have been participating in creative and therapeutic art to enhance their well-being, where all the artefacts made have been inspired by the forest.
People living with dementia, carers, staff and volunteers have worked together to produce a communal piece of art – ‘The CARIAD Tree of Life’ – a mixed media wall hanging which represents growth, strength and resilience in times of adversity. The project was kindly supported by Tai Calon.
At the end of the project we invited family, friends, staff and volunteers along to a celebratory event to view the pieces of art work. Just under 40 people attended the event. There was a short reading of a poem which complimented the art work. There was also an opportunity for attendees to participate in a short workshop to experience some of the well-being benefits as enjoyed by our participants. We enjoyed a buffet with ‘Black Forest’ dessert to keep in with the theme. We had a nice sing along and dance at the end of a very successful event.
We are hoping to display the art works in our Hospice shops over the next few months for everyone to see.
Here Lynda one of the Hospice’s Health Care Assistant’s shares her story around why she does her role, what motivates her and even how she manages to stay awake through the night!
How long have you been a HCA with the Hospice?
6 years in December 23
What does the role of a Health Care Assistant involve?
The role involves supporting the patient and their family / carer alongside District Nurses, Doctors, and our wider Hospice team, ensuring pain management and personal needs are met.
Being someone, the patient can talk to without them feeling as if they are burdening their families.
It’s also about making sure family members / carers can get a well-earned rest, although they very rarely sleep, they are safe in the knowledge their loved one is being well looked after and is in good hands
What is it that drew you to apply for the role?
Being able to support a patient holistically in their own home. With their medical, spiritual, physiological, and social wellness.
What do you enjoy most about the role?
Feeling I have supported a patient and their family to carry out their last wishes as they have planned. And maintaining a good quality of life for them.
Is it hard staying awake all night? And how do you manage it (have you got any little tricks or tips you use to stay awake)
It can be very hard, especially if the patient is asleep themselves. If this is the case sometimes ill do some online training to help keep me awake or my suduko and this can help. I sometimes use a wet flannel to wipe my face over this perks me up a bit.
What difference do you think your role has on patients and their loved ones?
Family members / carers find themselves in the most difficult situation sometimes. I feel as one big team we all play our parts in making a huge difference to families. They can sometimes feel alone and overwhelmed so us being there can really help as they have someone else to talk to and help with the caring tasks to take the pressure off them. They want to do everything for their loved on and are often burnt out and relieved when we tell them it’s OK to ask for help.
Why should people get involved in the Big Stay Awake campaign?
To raise awareness and money for the Hospice and to remind others there is help and support available for them at such a difficult time.
Gavin and Lacy share what being a Hospice of the Valleys Volunteer means to them
“I personally enjoy interacting with customers on the shop floor and learning how to display merchandise on shop floor.
I also, enjoy working with such a fantastic team.
Since I started volunteering for Hospice of the Valleys, it has introduced me to new people and boosted my confidence. It has also helped decrease my anxiety.
It has also encouraged me to have more belief in myself as well as allowing me to gain and improve my organizational, team leadership, interpersonal skills.
I enjoy giving back to the Community and would strongly advise others to give it a go you couldn’t work with a better team.”
Lacy– Merthyr Shop Volunteer
“When I first started I didn’t want to work the till as I didn’t feel confident enough, I have received a lot of training since I have started in the Merthyr shop which has helped me grow my confidence. I can now help cover the shop on the Mangers days off. I have also received in-depth Manual handling training which have given me the opportunity to help as a van assistant which I enjoy doing very much ”
Gavin – Retail volunteer/ Van Assistant
Phil was shell shocked when diagnosed with Prostate Cancer three years ago, age 44. Not knowing where else to turn, Phil self-referred to the hospice, already aware of the service as his father- in- law had received support. “When I was diagnosed I was unsure where to turn. The hospice helped me understand my diagnosis and then explained the services they could provide to support me and my family” Shortly after Phil’s referral his specialist nurse saw he was suffering from a number of stress induced problems and suggested complementary therapy. “I was sceptical to begin with, but I could soon feel the benefits. My stress levels decreased and my sleep dramatically improved”. Phil received reflexology, massage and aromatherapy he also received these treatments when staying at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan hospital. The treatments improved Phil’s physical and psychological symptoms, allowing him to open up, discussing his fears and anxieties in a safe and relaxed environment. “It was my oasis in life, it was me time and I didn’t get that anywhere else. I would highly recommend having complementary therapies to anyone who is unsure. They have helped me no end and I haven’t looked back since” Phil explained. During Phil’s journey he accessed a variety of the hospice’s services including family support, nursing and therapies. The clinical team worked together providing the support Phil needed. Phil was discharged from the hospice as his symptoms were controlled and stable. Although Phil was anxious about discharge, he worked with the team and knows that should anything change, the hospice is only ever a phone call away.