Hospiscare is an Exeter based local, independent charity which provides high quality care and support to people with a progressive life-limiting illness and those close to them living in Exeter, East and Mid Devon. Hospiscare was formed in 1982 with two community nurses and the hospice was opened in 1992. We currently have 160 staff and more than 1,000 volunteers.

They employ 28 specialist nurses to work in the community visiting people in their own homes, community hospital, residential or nursing home. Teams of nurses and assistant practitioners offer specialist advice and support every day of the year, a telephone advice line is open 24 hours a day.

Searle House Hospice in Exeter has 12 beds and offers specialist nursing, medical treatment and care for complex needs. We have expert doctors and consultants. In addition to Searle House there are three day service centres, one attached to Searle House Hospice, Exeter, Pine Lodge Day Hospice in Tiverton and Kings House Day Hospice in Honiton. These provide day services with specialist nursing care, carer respite, support and a range of therapies, such as massage, nail care and crafts.

Hospicare also offer complementary therapies, services for carers, chaplaincy, bereavement support and a car driving service.

It costs Hospiscare £6m a year to provide a wide variety of services, with £1.25m funded by the NHS and the rest by fundraising events, community and business support, Hospiscare retail services, grants and gifts in wills.

Tony Berger tells how Hospiscare looked after him and his beloved wife Dawn:

Dawn was an amazing woman – a businesswoman, a fashionista, she gave 110 per cent all the time and was always helping other people. So when Dawn fell ill it was the wonderful Hospiscare doctors and staff who were there to care for her. We met in our early 50’s and on our third date, looking around Exeter Cathedral, Dawn told me she loved me! We were soul mates and lived every moment together for 20 years. When Dawn was diagnosed with cancer the roof fell in on our world.

Eighteen months into her illness I started nursing Dawn and in November 2014 she came into Hospiscare’s Searle House Hospice in Exeter. The comfort the staff brought to those who are affected by their loved one’s illness, not just the person being treated was amazing.

They lifted me, from opening the front door into reception and receiving a warm greeting and knowing you are being looked after, to the spiritual help from the chaplain, to the doctors who sit quietly and talk about change of medication, to the male nurse who would just know when to give a hug, it was seamless care. It was so professional and yet so warm.

It’s another level. Dawn was thrilled when her dog Darcy was allowed to visit her and lie on her bed. That made a big difference, especially on Christmas Day. Darcy would lie next to Dawn who put her hand on her head. It was so comforting.

Rachel, our Hospiscare community nurse, prepared me for Dawn’s last hours by describing, in such a professional and caring way, what it would be like. That’s invaluable information. You are never prepared for your loved one to die. You are never prepared to let go.

Rachel suggested playing soft music and the whole experience of moving from life to death was so very gentle. We had friends with us and we all held Dawn’s hand, that was really lovely, a privilege, that we all shared that moment, I take great comfort in knowing that our last days together were so special and precious because of Hospiscare. I am passionate that this amazing charity can be there for others, because without the hospice and the care given by their nurses, it’s got to be a sad end.

I hope you can support this wonderful charity and give what you are able, so they can be there for others.

Hospiscare has a number of charity places available for this year’s event, for more information please contact Celia on c.wilkinson@hospiscare.co.uk or 01392 688092.

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