My name is Veronica and I am a domestic assistant at St Helena, I have been here over 17 years.
It takes passion, love, care, consideration, respect and empathy to provide hospice care. There are lots of things that make the hospice work other than the money and financial side of the organisation. People make the place work, patients make the place work and the surroundings make the place work too. The gardens of the hospice have such a benefit to the patients; there are so many benefits to having the right kind of outside surrounds to make the hospice work. You need the equipment and the basics, but if you haven’t got the passion, care or the love then the equipment is meaningless in providing the care needed for our patients, relatives and staff.
Hospice care is about taking time with somebody and allowing them to do what they want. That means working effectively as a team, everybody working together makes a big difference in giving people what they want while they are here in the hospice. Patients and relatives see the domestic team as less important, the nurses and doctors are often busy whereas we go in and do jobs that are part of normal life at home. People will talk to us as if they were at home and in a comfortable environment, they may feel that they can’t disturb the nurses but people often feel more comfortable to ask us for help with the small things, such as asking for their favourite dessert or wanting to buy a birthday card. But we are able to take the time to talk to them and help as much as we can. Our volunteers are fabulous and this place wouldn’t run without them, thanks to them we can get our patients a cup of tea when they want one, rather than disturbing the nurses. We do get to hear some really heart-breaking stories, as once people feel comfortable they can share so much about their lives. We also share stories from our home lives and share banter with the patients about normal things, and it just helps to let them forget what they are here for. The hospice is more normal and homely than hospital, it’s so important for us to have the time to speak to our patients and it really makes my job worthwhile.
I wanted to work for St Helena as 24 years ago my mum was a patient here and I got to see the other side of St Helena. While I was here I got on really well with the domestic team and became really good friends with some of them. They allowed me to go round to the laundry room and do ironing; I love ironing so this was actually a therapy for me. I then came on to do voluntary work after my mum passed away and then while I was volunteering they approached me and asked if I wanted to be part of the team. I was over the moon to have the chance to come back and give back what St Helena had offered to me and my family, which we all really appreciated. It’s an important place to me and has an important place in my heart. I have no regrets of coming here at all and I will miss working here dreadfully when I leave.
Before I came here I didn’t know what the hospice was about at all and to see the care that is provided in the hospice is amazing. People’s perception of a hospice is normally doom and gloom. But I’ve always said, when you walk through that front door there’s just a feeling that you can relax and let go of everything, it’s going to be ok and someone is going to look after you. You don’t get that in many places, but that’s how I feel when I walk through those doors, I feel very safe here, even as a staff member, I feel very safe. For 10 years one patient kept coming back to the hospice who I got to know very well, I met her in my first year and she was still coming back 10 years later. It might have only been 1 week in a year but she was still coming back. I love being able to say that to patients, as I can honestly say that we have patients who keep coming back and return home again, it can really help people.
The volunteers, the fundraising team, shops, therapists, bereavement team, SinglePoint, there’s so many services that the hospice offers that people don’t know about.
If the domestics don’t clean the building, then it’s not fit for purpose, so even though we are not very seen, if we don’t do our job then the building can’t be used to care for patients. It’s lovely to see all the aspects of the hospice come together. When you clean for a patient you don’t even think about it, you know they are unwell and it’s how I can help to care for them. Patients can feel uncomfortable enough that you have to clean for them so the best way to do that is discreetly and quietly, maybe make a joke and have a laugh along the way to make them feel more comfortable. For me, that is what it takes to provide hospice care.
Veronica Hall, Domestic Assistant
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464
If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566