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Patient Comfort Appeal Part Two

Following last year’s appeal to help us buy new pressure-relieving mattresses, we are once again asking for help provide comfort to all our patients in Joseph Weld Hospice. The mattresses we have, thanks to the magnificent generosity of our supporters, are truly incredible. But it has brought into sharp focus the fact that we need to replace the chairs that are beside each of our patients’ beds. We need to raise a total of £27,932 to to buy all 14 of the new chairs we need – and their accompanying accessories.

Donate online now using the form at the bottom of this page – or learn more below.

I’m Di Sketchley and I’m a Senior Staff Nurse working at Weldmar Hospicecare’s inpatient unit here in Dorchester.

I made an appeal almost exactly a year ago now, asking supporters like you for help to buy new pressure-relieving mattresses for our patients. And, magnificently, we received an incredible response. In fact, thanks to the kindness of our community we were able to buy a brand-new mattress for every one of our 14 patient bedrooms – and bring comfort to everyone
staying with us.

The difference these mattresses have made to our patients has been simply astonishing. A year ago, we were worrying about painful pressure sores and having to switch patients around to try to get them comfortable. Now, we don’t have to move anyone – and pressure sores have become a much, much smaller problem. And of course, for all of the nursing team it’s utterly fantastic for us to know that our patients are no longer in preventable pain or suffering from unnecessary discomfort.

In fact, in the last year, we have had some patients who arrived at the hospice with pressure sores – but which were completely healed by the time they left us, simply because we were able to give them the right mattress. I can’t tell you how happy this has made me – and all the nurses here. I’m here writing again, a year later on, because we have another specific need – and I’m hoping that you might be able to help. The mattresses we now have are truly incredible. But, they have brought into sharp focus the fact that we really need to replace the chairs that are beside each of the patients’ beds.

Almost all patients we see will use their chair at some point in their stay with us – and the chair serves a number of different purposes. For some, being in a bed in the hospice is frightening – because they fear this means the end is surely just round the corner. Sometimes, patients simply cannot be comfortable lying down and can only find respite in a supported, sitting position. Others have been in bed for a long time – and just can’t sit in a ‘normal’ chair. For many, it’s a question of dignity rather than medical need. Patients ask to be helped into their chair when friends and family come to visit, for example. So, the chair has to be right – just as right as the bed and mattress.

Working alongside my colleague Jane Smith, an Occupational Therapist here at Weldmar Hospicecare, has brought to light the many reasons we need to replace the chairs we currently have. By collaborating and sharing our knowledge of nursing and therapy, the need to encourage our patients out of bed and into the right chairs is something that has become a priority. The chairs we have now are all quite old, fixed-position models – the kind of thing you might find in a social-club lounge. Patients can use them – but often not for very long. For some people, getting into one of our current chairs just isn’t an option.

What we need are new, moveable, comfortable chairs that can flex and adapt to each patient’s needs. Mostly, we need ‘Riser Recliner’ chairs where the footrest and seat-back can move to find the right position. But, we also need to buy two each of some more specialist and adaptable chairs with increased postural support – ones that are designed for patients that would really struggle to be out of bed.

Consulting Jane and other members of the team here at Weldmar Hospicecare, we’ve picked the very best chairs that will help all of our patients have a more comfortable time during their stay on our inpatient unit – whatever their needs! With the right chair, we can give everyone at Weldmar the chance to find real comfort. And, because the chairs are easily moveable, patients will be able to move more freely, to go outside in good weather, or just to leave their room and meet friends and family in our café. Quite often, patients will want to bid farewell to their visitors at the front door – just like they would at home. The right chair will give renewed confidence – confidence that the patient can take home with them. These new chairs would make all this possible. (Oh – and the chair next to the bed is also where a patient’s loved-one will sit, relax and rest. A better chair will make their experience so much more comfortable too.) But, our funding this year is extremely tight. It already looks certain we’ll spend more on our care services than we’ll bring in this year. We are completely out of ‘spare’ budget and have no way of buying these new chairs from our existing funds.

That’s why I have taken the step of writing to you a year later, with our ‘Patient Comfort Appeal – Part Two’.

One of the more specialist and adaptable chairs (the Phoenix) that we want to buy will cost £2,665 – and each Riser Recliner will cost £1,890. In total, we need to raise £27,932 to buy all 14 of the new chairs we need – and their accompanying accessories. Last year, I suggested that people could perhaps buy one hundredth of the cost of a mattress (but, fantastically, many chose to contribute more – some even bought a mattress outright!). One hundredth of a new Phoenix chair would be £26.65 – but anything you choose to give would be utterly fantastic and hugely appreciated.

With all best wishes to you and your loved ones from all of us at Weldmar Hospicecare.

Di Sketchley
Senior Staff Nurse IPU


I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in May 2016.

That followed six months of becoming increasingly clumsy (I struggled to undo buttons, play guitar and I fell flat on my face a few times) and a further six months of tests during which my symptoms grew worse. MND is incurable – and the future will see my abilities gradually reduce. No-one really knows how long this will take. I met other MND patients in 2016 who were diagnosed at the same time as me, and they’ve gone already. Very rarely, some people live with MND for many years (Stephen Hawking made it to 76!) but most do not. I need a lot of support now, and I have help at home every day, with regular support from a Weldmar Community Nurse as well. My wonderful wife, Sally, takes great care of me, but it is more and more tiring looking after my needs – and so it was suggested earlier this year that I come into Weldmar Hospice’s inpatient unit for a week,
following a chest infection. I have to tell you it was the most wonderful week for us both. For me, it was like moving into a posh hotel (I wanted to leave them a five-star review on TripAdvisor but they’re not on there!). The doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other staff gave me an incredible amount of attention and support. I had everything I needed at a moment’s notice – if I pressed the nurse-call button a head would pop round my door within 30 seconds. And, you get the same brilliant care and attention from everyone here. No-one is above helping the patients with whatever they need. One day I required help with my lunch (I can’t feed myself anymore) and a lovely lady came and sat with me, nattering and helping me eat. At the end I said, “Are you a volunteer then?” and she replied, “No, – I’m the Director of Nursing!”.

While I was there I spent a lot of my time in my hospice bed – which I have to tell you was the most amazing, comfortable bed I’ve ever experienced. I wanted to get out of bed and move about as much as possible, so the nurses helped me with that. My problem is that my MND means I need support for my back – I’ve lost a lot of muscle strength and it’s difficult for me to sit up and be comfortable. I was able to be transferred, with help, into my own wheelchair (nicknamed Trigger) and go off round the hospice. I used the chair on Sally’s birthday, she came in for the day and we had a brilliant carvery lunch in the hospice café.

The hospice’s Occupational Therapists organised a ‘Riser Recliner’ chair for me to have at home, and that’s helped enormously. Recently, I’ve found the armrests are too high for me and my arms and shoulders cramp up, preventing me from being able to use my arms and hands.

Weldmar’s Occupational Therapist is now looking into sorting out one of the more supportive and specialist chairs for me to have – just like the ones they want to buy for the hospice. There’s nothing they won’t do to make my time there as happy and comfortable as it can be. My needs are going to change over time – and so I’ll need different types of chairs, beds and mattresses as I go on. Knowing Weldmar will have the right thing for me in the future when I need it most is very reassuring.

Sally and I are helping as we can. We downsized (a lot!) recently and gave all the extra furniture and other stuff we’ve accumulated over the years to the hospice to sell in their shops. It’s the best way we can help them to get the money they need to buy these new chairs – and so help all those who will come after me. I hope you feel motivated to chip in as well. Best wishes to you and your family – and thanks.


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