Thames Hospice's beds are often the last beds patients will ever experience, and we are asking you to help us make sure our mattresses are the best and most comfortable mattresses people will ever sleep on.
We have launched the Patient Comfort Appeal in a bid to raise more than £20,000 for specialist mattresses for our most seriously ill patients. All 17 beds on our Inpatient Unit are full almost all of the time - supporting around 500 local people every year. With such high demand for beds and patients with increasingly complex needs, we need to replace some of our existing mattresses so we can continue to deliver compassionate care to people in their final days and weeks.
Linda Nelson, Head of Inpatient Services at Thames Hospice, said:"Our team are amongst the most highly trained and experienced palliative care Nurses in the UK. But, we have a problem. Today I am asking you, on behalf of the whole team, to help us find a solution. We have a limited equipment budget and there simply isn't the spare money available to afford new specialist mattresses.
"Most of our seriously ill patients have very little mobility and spend the majority of their time lying still in their beds. For many, just turning a little to find a more comfortable position (as you or I might take for granted) is virtually impossible. This means that these vulnerable patients, at such a difficult time, suffer a real risk of pressure damage incredibly painful sores and ulcers caused by the weight of the body constantly pressing on one patch of skin. I've been nursing for over 25 years and I can tell you that pressure damage like this is absolutely awful. The new beds are fitted with pressure-relieving mattresses which use air pumps to continually inflate and deflate sections, keep the skin moving and reduce the risk of pressure sores."
Six of our mattresses are old, outdated models, which need to be replaced with brand new models, so they can give people the most peaceful and dignified end to their lives. We are hoping to be able to buy these, and the specialist protective, non-abrasive mattress toppers, with the generosity of the local community. Each set will last approximately seven years and two of the mattress sets have a built-in alarm system for our most vulnerable patients. These will make a huge difference to the quality of experience of every patient who lies on them.
A wonderful example of where we were able to get our care just right was for Wendy Jones, from Slough. Last year, before she died of pancreatic cancer aged just 50, we helped her achieve her wish of seeing her daughter, Shannen Jones, graduate. Shannen said:"She desperately wanted to see me get my degree, but the nurses just didn't know if she would make it. But Mum hung on and hung on and was still there on the morning of the ceremony. Mum couldn't come with me, she was far too ill, but the amazing Hospice staff had found out that the University was showing the whole thing over the Internet. So, they took her down into their Sanctuary in her bed and set up a big screen and projector. There my Mum, surrounded by her siblings, watched as I picked up my certificate. She was barely conscious but at the moment I walked on stage she opened her eyes and raised both arms into the air. I rushed back to the Hospice afterwards and she was still alive, but unconscious.
"We stayed by her side for the next few hours, holding her hand until her breathing changed and then stopped. Mum died in peace, in comfort, with all her family with her and she achieved her goal. I know how important that was to her and its a priceless, precious memory that I will always have. All of this was made possible by the incredible people at Thames Hospice. It took a huge effort to get Mum down into the Sanctuary but they did it because they knew what it meant to us. Their dedication and support for all of us was astonishing."
Shannen continued: "The team is trying to raise money for these mattresses, because the new ones are so much more comfortable for the patients. This is their incredible dedication in action they want the very best for everyone they care for. Our family will be helping them and I hope you will too. Thanks for reading this and much love to you and your family."
Linda added:"Wendy and Shannen are the kind of lovely local people you will be directly helping with your support. Everyone deserves personal, dignified, comfortable care in their final days. The difference that makes to the individual is enormous and with the right care we can create more lasting, positive memories for families and loved ones. Any gift you are able to give will be most gratefully received."