NURSES from Manorlands made more than 2,500 visits to the homes of the hospice’s patients last year.

Sue Ryder’s community nurse specialists were responding to an increased demand from people wanting to be cared for at home.

The charity has seen a 65 per cent increase in the number of home visits across the district during the past three years, and expanded its team of nurses to eight to help accommodate these requests.

The community nurse specialists based at Manorlands work closely with GPs, as well as district and community nurses, to provide expert advice, support and symptom management.

Team member, Sarah Ramsden, looks after patients with a range of conditions, including cancer, heart disease or renal failure.

She covers most of Keighley and her other seven colleagues cover the rest of Craven, Airedale, Wharfedale and North Bradford.

She said: “I think there is still some confusion about our role within the community. Some people think we are Macmillan nurses.

“Maybe it’s because we don’t wear a uniform, but in this area Sue Ryder Manorlands hospice has been supporting people with complex care needs, as well as their loved ones, for more than 40 years.”

In a typical day, Sarah will arrive at the hospice at 8am to check any calls that have come in overnight from the Gold Line, a dedicated 24/7 telephone service run by Airedale Hospital to support people with end-of-life care or palliative care needs.

Sarah said: “We look after patients who have life-limiting illnesses. Our role is to make sure they have the best quality of life for as long as possible.

“They may be having problems with physical symptoms or may be struggling psychologically or spiritually with their illness and its progression.

“We aim to bring the expertise of the hospice to the patients’ homes, enabling advance care planning for patients and their families to ensure patients’ wishes are met at all stages of their journey.”

Sarah begins her community visits at 10am. She might make an urgent visit for a patient who has suddenly deteriorated and needs a change in medication. She might liaise with a patient’s family to ensure they know what to do if a crisis occurs out of hours.

Sarah assesses a new patient at noon. She said: “We don’t only ask about the physical conditions but look at the whole person, including spiritual and emotional needs.”

The interview ranges from a patient’s medical history, symptoms and medication, to services they could access from the hospice, and important non-medical issues like financial worries or specialist equipment needs.

Sarah is back in the office at 3pm, writing notes about patients she has just seen, and liaising with other health professionals to ensure they receive the best care.

She added: “There is still that stigma attached to hospices where people believe you only go there to die.

“But this is not always the case. Some people might access our services for a number of years, according to their personal care needs. My role is to help people stay at home.”

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