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St Helena Hospice chief executive gives a Q&A about hospice care

Mark Jarman-Howe, chief executive of St Helena Hospice. Picture: WILL LODGE/ARCHANT

Mark Jarman-Howe, chief executive of St Helena Hospice. Picture: WILL LODGE/ARCHANT

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As part of Hospice Care Week, we spoke to St Helena Hospice’s chief executive Mark Jarman-Howe about running the charity over the past four-and-a-half years.

Mark Jarman-Howe, chief executive of St Helena Hospice. Picture: WILL LODGE/ARCHANTMark Jarman-Howe, chief executive of St Helena Hospice. Picture: WILL LODGE/ARCHANT

How have things changed since you took the helm?

Things have moved on quite a lot in recent years. St Helena Hospice has an ambitious board, and there’s sadly a lot of un-met need which sparks growth. For every family we support there’s potentially another who is not accessing our services.

We have started to introduce some new ways of working, such as our Singlepoint service 24/7 advice centre and co-ordination centre for local services so any patient, family member, professional on any aspect of palliative care can call for support.

We have also significantly expanded our bereavement service, it’s now open to anybody bereaved for any reason, and last year we helped nearly 900 people.

Can you briefly introduce the hospice to the uninitiated?

St Helena Hospice has been in existence for over 30 years and we serve the whole of north east Essex. We support about 4,000 people each year, patients and families.

We have a broad spectrum of services. Most people will associate with our inpatient unit at Myland Hall in Colchester – the bit that is perhaps less well known is supporting people in the community, up to as many as 500 people at a time, going out and visiting them.

We also have two therapies and wellbeing centres, one in Highwoods, Colchester, and one in the middle of Clacton.

You recently outlined expansion plans – can you tell us more?

We’re very excited about our plans for the next few years. We’ve been looking really hard at how we provide care to more people, both in their homes and in hospice beds.

We looked very carefully about whether we would move sites, but we decided Myland Hall is our spiritual home so we will be investing to bring it up to modern standards and increasing by four or five beds.

We know that’s not enough to meet growing demand. The population is growing in Colchester, and In tendring the number of people aged over-100 will double in the next few years and there will be a 40% increase in over-75s – people who are more likely to use our services.

Our planned nursing home in Tendring takes the hospice ethos to care to a much bigger scale. We do brilliant care at Myland Hall but we have 15 beds – a nursing home could have 80.

It’s also sustainable as it brings in an income stream to the hospice as well. And there are great opportunities for people looking for a career in care at the hospice.

How is the hospice financed?

The support of the local community is absolutely vital to what we do. We get just over 30% of our total income from the NHS, so two-thirds we have to raise ourselves.

Tell us about Hospice Care Week

The theme is ‘We are hospice care’. For us hospice care is all about people. We are very lucky to have a broad range of very experienced and skilled professional staff – about 300, roughly two-thirds of which directly support people – but we also have about 1,200 volunteers in 55 different roles.

Have there been funny or odd moments?

Paddy our cat has almost celebrity status here, and it’s things like that – where we allow pets if people want to come and visit and we see all sorts of weird and wonderful animals, that you would not have in a sterile hospital environment.

There’s a lot of warmth and humour, it’s all about the personal touch.

We also have a lot of fundraising events, and I go to as many as I can. We have the Comic Hero Run, and I was very fortunate to be sponsored by a local business. Unfortunately the cost was I had to dress up as Bob the Builder for the whole 10k run, but it brought in a lot of money for the hospice.

If you could dress up as any superhero, who would it be?

I love to run as the Hulk – so if there are any firms out there with a lot of green paint...

Where do you see the hospice in five years’ time?

I would hope we are making it usual that if people need our care and support they can guarantee they can get it. I would love it if we could become an organisation that always says yes.

With the plans we have got and with the support of the local community and joint working with other local organisations I think we have got a really good chance of getting there.

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