New hospice team to show people the way

A scheme which aims to ensure those diagnosed with a life-shortening illness to get the right support at the right time has been launched by St Nicholas Hospice Care.

The First Contact team – which is the hospice’s first point of contact for those newly-referred or diagnosed - aims to ensure patients’ needs are prioritised and that they are seen by the most suitable member of the hospice team, in the best location for them and at the most appropriate time.

First Contact clinical nurse specialist, Jane Wythe, said: “Many people who have a life-shortening illness come into contact with an array of different medical professionals - the range of people to see and options to think about can be overwhelming and confusing.

“First Contact aims to help people to understand and access the wide variety of services available through the hospice and in the community.

“If you have had a diagnosis, please get in touch. We will find the right service for you.”

The team receives healthcare records and medical letters, speaks to the referrer and any other involved professionals to ensure information is complete, then carries out an in-depth telephone assessment with the patient and/or carer before ensuring the patient is seen by the most appropriate hospice service.

These can include ‘drop-in’ services and activities at the Orchard Centre through to specialist nurses who can offer support and advice for those dying at home.

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The team members can also signpost people to services outside the hospice and can introduce people to other professionals in the local area such as community nurses, community occupational therapists, physiotherapists and benefits advisors.

A �431,212 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, announced in October, will help to fund the First Contact service. The grant will go towards Hospice care and support in the community across West Suffolk over two years from April 2013.

For more information on the First Contact team, call 01284 766133, email or go to