THIS year’s Hospice Care Week, running until Sunday, is all about celebrating the extraordinary work that hospices do at the heart of their communities.

Martlets has marked the week by telling the stories of the real people of Brighton and Hove who work for, support or receive care from the hospice.

It’s an opportunity to inspire people from across the city to get involved with the charity, whether that’s by giving their time, donating or simply by showing their appreciation for its work on social media.

Martlets chief executive Imelda Glackin said: “You can’t miss our giant Snails, which are currently dotted around the city.

“I think they’re a very tangible representation of everything that Martlets is about.

“Like the Snails, our amazing team, wonderful volunteers and supporters are in every corner of the community, enabling people to still feel hope, purpose and possibility.

“They work tirelessly to support our patients, their families and friends across Brighton and Hove and the surrounding areas.

“Their dedication, care and humanity are totally inspirational.

“Hospice care is all about living life and enjoying every moment.

“Thanks to you, our team is right at the heart of the community doing just that.”

ELAINE Clifford was diagnosed with endometrial cancer two years ago and, a few months after surgery, she was told that her lymph nodes were affected.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed and she’s now stabilised.

Elaine explains how Martlets helps her to enjoy life.

She said: “I have a wonderful oncology nurse, who is involved with Martlets as well, and she asked how I felt about coming along to the hospice to have a cup of coffee with her.

“I was a little apprehensive; you think of hospices as being just about end of life care but my nurse told me that it really wasn’t going to be like that.

“Martlets is not intimidating in any way; it’s like a friendly community that is supportive and has loads of things to offer if you want them.

“There’s all kinds of arts and crafts, the choir, counselling and fun things to do.

“However, nothing is forced at all.

“It allows you to come in gently, to make friends and see how it goes because everyone is here for you.

“I come here for a meeting every few weeks and the Day Services team has been enormously helpful with their advice.

“I wasn’t aware that I was entitled to an attendance allowance or a blue badge, not that I need it now, but it’s good to have these ready for me for as and when I do need it.

“It will mean I don’t have to get things organised when I don’t feel well enough to do it.

“Martlets is a support network to everybody, not just the patient, the team at the hospice always ask my husband how he’s doing.

“That’s important, because it’s not just me dealing with this, it’s very much him as well.

“At the moment I’m enjoying life and Martlets is there, helping me to do just that.”

SPECIALIST Palliative Care Occupational Therapist Heidi Pession has been with Martlets since 2005.

She explains how she helps patients in their homes, in the rehabilitation clinic and on the hospice ward.

“Occupational therapy is such a varied profession that changes according to the patient’s needs and where it takes place.

“So, in the case of palliative care, we assess and treat the person in a holistic way, focusing on the person’s main wishes and goals.

“We help patients adapt to the changes in their lives, helping them to anticipate and cope constructively with losses resulting from their deteriorating health.

“Meeting people in their own homes gives me a real insight into that person so that I can help them to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

“People often see accepting aids and adaptations as giving in but they really make a difference to people’s quality of life by providing support and help to avoid any risks or unnecessary hospital admissions.

“On the in-patient unit, I aim to achieve the patient’s preferred place of care, which is often their home so I prepare their home for a safe discharge and work closely with them to increase their confidence.

“At the rehab clinic, I’m looking at how they can achieve their individual goals, which could be anything from fitting a mobile arm support to enable a musician to play the flute again or providing specialised seating to enable a mother to communicate and socialise more effectively with her family.

“I hope that we help patients make informed decisions and achieve realistic goals.

“They are living with a terminal diagnosis and we want to maximise their quality of life, dignity and independence; it’s about living with dying.

“I love the diversity of my role and I am honoured to meet such a variety of people.

“Supporting them at the most troubled time of their life is extremely rewarding.

“I feel privileged to work at Martlets, helping to give hope in the face of adversity is humbling.

“Despite the inevitable sadness, it is a happy place to work.”

RETIRED Infant School Teacher and hospice volunteer Robina Williams brings her gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Topsy and Jacob into Martlets to visit the patients as part of the Pets as Therapy scheme.

It’s a valuable role that she’s done for more than 28 years since she first began taking her PAT dogs into Coppercliff Hospice, the Martlets’ predecessor.

She said: “Topsy and Jacob try to be well behaved.

“They’ve been visiting patients since they were ten-week-old puppies so everyone makes a fuss of them when we arrive.

“I think it gives people a sense of normality, having a dog to stroke gives them something else to concentrate on and livens them up a bit.

“It really is a source of comfort for some people.

“They like to chat about their own pets and their memories, which really does them good.

“I simply listen. If we cheer up one person’s day then we’ve helped.

“Sometimes I have to lift the dogs up so that a patient can reach them for a stroke, and they’ll be given a little lick.

“Being able to do this is what’s so nice about Martlets, they allow people to be people and not just patients.

“People often say to me, ‘You’ve made my day.’

“But it’s not me it’s my dogs and I enjoy visiting so much – I really get a lot from volunteering.”