Julie's double reasons for supporting St Catherine's Hospice's new appeal

"They were amazing." Three words which up the difference St Catherine's Hospice at Lostock Hall, which wants to sign up 400 new regular donors, makes to local families.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 6:39 am

Julie Eastwood knows twice over the difference St Catherine's can make to families coping with terminal illness.

That is why she is supporting the hospice's new Regular Giving campaign.

Staff at the Lostock Hall hospice were there for the whole Eastwood family after her parents were diagnosed with life-shortening illnesses.

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Julie Eastwood - supporting the St Catherine's Hospice Regular Giving campaign

They helped both Alan and Rena Eastwood. They have also helped Julie.

After being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer Alan, who had served as Lancashire Fire and Rescue service officer for 30 years, said he wanted to die at home in Grimsargh, near Preston. He had decided not to have any treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Julie, 53, from Freckleton, said: "One of the St Catherine’s community clinical nurse specialists (CNS) came out to see us and they talked to my dad about his end-of-life care preferences, and managed to get his true feelings out of him. He was struggling and in a lot of pain but he wasn’t telling me and Mum because he didn’t want to worry us. But he told the St Catherine’s nurse so she was able to prescribe the appropriate medication and all of a sudden we just felt everything was under control. There was no anxiousness from our side any more because they were on top of things."

The expert help and support meant she and her mum could devote themselves to caring for Alan and gave them precious time together without the additional stresses of sorting out appropriate medical care.

Julie Eastwood pictured with her mother Rena

Julie said: "Being at home meant that Dad could carry on doing the every day, normal things he liked which was important to him; he loved his politics and current affairs shows on TV, he loved his garden and he could still sit and watch the birds coming to the feeder. It just made a world of difference and all of that was made possible through St Catherine’s facilitating it and ringing the right people to get things done."

Alan died peacefully at home with Rena and Julie by his side.

Rena, who was an SRN (state registered nurse) for 46 years, also had a life-limiting illness - pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) with the added autoimmune conditions systemic sclerosis and scleroderma.

Julie said: "After Dad died I was looking after mum and going round most days and doing a lot of hands-on care. Mum made it very clear that she didn’t want to die in hospital; she wanted to either go to St Catherine’s Hospice or be at home. "

Alan Eastwood was helped and supported by hospice staff

Rena was fearful when she was admitted to the hospice for symptom management.

Julie said: "Immediately the nurses and doctors put her at ease and all of her anxiety just faded away. The chef came and asked her what she wanted for her evening meal; it was just like coming to a hotel with all of this extra brilliant medical care. Nothing was too much trouble. She stayed in the hospice for a fortnight and she looked amazing at the end of that two weeks. If it hadn’t have been for the oxygen mask on her face ,she looked like she’d been mended and I’d got my mum back. "

When Rena returned home the St Catherine’s CNS nurse came to visit, making sure said Julie, that all her wishes were being listened to and she was comfortable.

Rena died a few weeks later at the age of 78. A grateful Julie said: "That’s when the hospice stepped in again to provide emotional support to me; they were amazing. My brother who lives and works overseas was also very grateful to the hospice for the care and support they gave to us all at such a difficult time."

St Catherine's Hospice's slogan for its new Regular Giving campaign

Big Issues, Small Details, All the Difference - 400 new donors needed

The Hospice is seeking to recruit 400 regular monthly donors to help build a reliable income stream.

The Regular Giving campaign has its own slogan: Big Issues, Small Details, All The Difference, which sums up the hospice's approach to caring for both those directly needing hospice services and their families.

The campaign was prompted after the hospice was hit by a 50 per cent reduction in income from donations and community events because of the Covid pandemic.

Cheif Executive Lynn Kelly said: “It’s about us developing regular and resilient income streams that are able to cope with a fluctuating economic environment.”

She emphasised that the hospice, which opened in 1985 and serves people in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble, continues to be immensely grateful to all their supporters who organise individual fundraising events, which also provide much needed income.

* To sign up to give a regular monthly donation to St Catherine’s visit www.stcatherines.co.uk or call the hospice on 01772 629171 or see here

* For more reports on the Regular Giving campaign and the hospice's role and work see here and here