Friday, 9 November 2012

Chatsworth and Barnsley Hospice.

An unlikely pairing perhaps? Yesterday I went across the Yorkshire Dales into Derbyshire and to one of Britain's most magnificent stately homes, Chatsworth and today visited Barnsley Hospice.

In 60 years I had never got to Chatsworth so this was one to tick off that list. And what a stunning place it is; not just the marvellous building and historic treasures but the stunning grounds set in the splendour of a British hillside autumn. Deborah, the Dowager Duchess is the last surviving of the 5 Mitford sisters who lived at Astall in Oxfordshire, just 6 miles from Charlbury and one of my favourite pub runs. In fact she still has a house and the Swan pub in Swinbrook where you lunch surrounded by the Mitford girl's in photos on the walls. Her 4 sisters are buried in the lovely Swinbrook churchyard.

And talking of lunch we (Hound and I!) had a delicious Derbyshire pie in the Devonshire Arms nearby after the Hound had romped through the gardens. A splendid country pub that welcomes dogs; pity London is not more like this.

ACEVO member Ian Carey runs the Barnsley Hospice; a small but highly effective organisation much loved in the town. Good to be able to look round and meet staff and to hear about their building expansion plans.

Palliative care is now much more in the news. Lord Warner has recently been sponsoring a debate in the Lords on amending the NHS Constitution to give people the right to die at the place of their choice. Too often people die in hospital when they would like to end their days in a hospice or cared for at home. These days a lot of health care can be provided in homes and many hopsices help support this. So, for example, many of those who come to the Barnsley Hospice stay for a period- around 11 days and then are able to spend the last few days at home with their loved ones. They also have a well equipped day centre which also provides much needed support. Ian says they have plans to expand the care they can provide for people in their homes.

Why do the majority of people at the end of life die in hospital? We talked about how the NHS culture can sometimes be hostile to perceived "outsiders" like Hospices and so hospitals and GPs fail to see the advantage of working in partnership to enable people to exercise choice. The vision of Dame Cicely Saunders all those years ago, of a quiet and spiritual place which can offer superb medical care as well as love and dignity at the end of ones day's is yet to be fully realised but Ian and his team are battling to do this in Barnsley. They well deserve support.

Well, my few days in Yorkshire have been a joy and it's now depressing to be blogging from a traffic jam on the M1 as we head back to Charlbury!

No comments: