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Saint Francis Hospice: 15 myths and myth busters


From Joe Emery at Saint Francis Hospice

For many people, the word ‘hospice’ conjures up images of a gloomy building where people go to die. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You can expect love life, love and laughter at our Hospice — all set in beautiful surroundings. To set the record straight, here are five common myths about our Hospice and the truth behind them.

Myth 1: “You need to be religious or a Christian to be involved with or cared for by Saint Francis Hospice”

Although the inspiration for our name came from the Prayer of Saint Francis many years ago, we’re not religious-based. We’ve always cared for people of all faiths including those with no faith.

Our staff, volunteers, fundraisers, patrons, trustees, and major donors come from all different walks of life.

Myth 2: “The NHS funds, owns, and runs Saint Francis Hospice”

We’re self-run and self-funded. The NHS only provides 28% of our funding, so we need to find £21,000 a day to survive. We rely on the kindness and generosity of the public to help us raise over £7.5 a year.

Myth 3: “The Hospice and its gardens look so lovely it must be a private hospital for people with a lot of money”

Our Hospice is a registered charity and a local independent voluntary organisation.

We don’t charge patients, their families, or their friends for any of the care or services we provide. We are fortunate to have such a beautiful site for everyone to enjoy.

Myth 4: “Saint Francis Hospice is for old people”

We don’t only care for the silver-haired generation; our inpatients can be as young as 18.

At the moment, we’re providing care and services for:

  • 25 adults between 20–30

  • 13 people between 11–20

  • 10 children younger than 10 years old

We also provide bereavement therapy for children as young as three who have lost a parent to a life-limiting illness.

Myth 5: “Saint Francis Hospice only cares for people who live in Havering”

While our Hospice is in Havering-atte-Bower, our catchment area also allows us to care and provide services for people in Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Brentwood, and parts of West Essex.

Myth 6: “Saint Francis Hospice only looks after people with cancer”

While cancer is a condition we specialise in, we also care for people living with all types of life-limiting illnesses. These include strokes, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, and heart and lung disease.

Myth 7: “Saint Francis Hospices only admits patients during the week and in working hours”

We welcome new patients 24 hours of every day, including Saturdays, Sundays, and bank holidays.

Myth 8: “Saint Francis Hospice always has a waiting list of inpatients”

On occasions we do, but not always. Health professionals should’nt be put off from referring people to us.

Myth 9: “Saint Francis Hospice has visiting hours like a hospital”

Our Hospice is open for visitors to see their loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. There is always someone on reception, plus extra security at night time.

Myth 10: “I’ve seen the hospice it’s on the high street”

That would be one of our many local charity shops that raise much-needed funds so that we can continue to care for people, free of charge.

Myth 11: “I know the Saint Francis Hospice needs volunteers, but I don’t think I would be any good around sick people”  

There’s scope to get involved in all areas of the Hospice — on and offsite. These can include retail, reception, fundraising, photography, filmmaking, and gardening — to name but a few. Some of our volunteers work on OrangeLine, helping people who feel lonely, isolated, or are going through a bereavement.

Most of our volunteers don’t have direct dealings with our patients.

Myth 12: “I’d like to volunteer, but Saint Francis Hospice would want me to commit to full-time work”

Our 820 volunteers give up 265,000 hours each year, saving the Hospice £1.5m over 12 months. They dedicate anything from one to 35 hours a week. Everyone at the Hospice would greatly appreciate even an hour of your time. Without our volunteers, we simply wouldn’t here.

Myth 13: “Saint Francis Hospice only provides medical care and looks after people at the Hospice”

We are so much bigger than just our Hospice site. We provide 85% of our care and support services off-site, including complementary therapy, physiotherapy, and bereavement support.

We have a large Hospice at Home team that works entirely out in the community, visiting people at their homes.

Our Community Clinical Nurse Specialists are also based offsite, supporting GPs and district nurses.

Myth 14: “Saint Francis is a place where you go to die”

We do care for patients at the end of their life, but 33.5% of our inpatients are discharged and do go home again. We’re also here for patients’ friends and family during this time of need and beyond.

Myth 15: “Saint Francis Hospice only cares for the person who is ill, and if they pass away, all ties are cut”

At our Hospice, it’s not only about the person who is ill, but everyone around them.

We offer therapy for bereaved families and children, on and offsite, long after their loved one has passed — there’s no expiry date on our care.

There are many ways in which you can support us. You can find out more by visiting http://www.sfh.org.uk/support-us, calling 01708 753319, or emailing fundraising@sfh.org.uk

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