Martlets has been here 21 years. At the hospice we have an inpatient unit with 18 beds, but most of the care we offer is outside of the hospice in patients’ homes or through our day services. Having a terminal illness doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to die any time soon. We like to have somebody referred to us as soon as possible, so that we can help them to live well for as long as they can.
The first stage is that they will be referred to us, by their GP, nurse or hospital, and we will assess their needs. They may only need ad-hoc, light-touch interventions from us for quite a long time. They can access what we call our day services – therapies, clinical expertise, advice – and they can pick and choose from all the things on offer. We have massage, reiki, tai chi, all sorts of therapies – all given to us as services by volunteers. They can come in for welfare advice, hairdressing and pampering; we have a gardening group, a choir, social events.
Half of the patients that stay in our inpatient unit do go home again. Some are here for respite care, so their carers can have a bit of a break, or because there’s been a change in their symptoms and they need some short-term support. We do have some cases where people stay here right through to end of life care, or are supported to die at home. If that’s what they want, we will move mountains to make that happen for them. The last place many people want to be when they die is in a hospital, so we really try to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.
I think there’s a perception that we’re run and funded by the NHS, but we’re not. We need to raise £7 million a year to run the hospice and that comes from a number of sources. Our biggest income source is from legacies – people leaving a gift in their will. The NHS provide £1.5 million a year, and we have income generated from a subsidiary company called Martlets Care, a domiciliary care agency who donate all their profits back to the hospice. The rest comes from our shops and from all sorts of fundraising events.
Snailspace is a huge fundraiser this year, which we hope will raise in the region of £300,000 for the charity. There are 50 large snails, which are sponsored by local companies, and each has been decorated by a different artist. This year there are also 57 junior snails that have been painted by schools, youth groups and nurseries, and they’re going to be part of the trail as well. They’ll all appear on the streets of Brighton & Hove on the 15th of September. There’s a map, and there’s an app you can download, which unlocks all sorts of special offers and competitions. You can get all the information from the website.
As told by Sally Brighton