Angela Rippon, OBE, was on sparkling form when she visited The Hospice of St Francis last week, touring the building and chatting to patients and staff, before speaking movingly and eloquently about dementia at the Hospice’s Annual General Meeting.
Angela spent over half an hour in the patient lounge chatting to patient, Barbara Gray, 69 - a former business manager and hospital radio volunteer - from Harpenden, who is having a short stay at the Hospice to help with symptom control for uterine cancer, which has now spread to her spine and liver.
Mother-of-two, Barbara, commented, “It was so lovely to spend time with Angela. She was charming, intelligent and sophisticated – everything I expected her to be. We chatted about our life experiences and stories and, of course, my care here. I told her how wonderful the staff are, nothing is too much trouble and they’ve gone out of their way to look after me, controlling my pain, offering me reflexology to putting on a special tea party for 12 to celebrate my grandson Raef’s seventh birthday. The Hospice has made such a difference to me and I’m now looking forward to going home."
Angela went on to speak engagingly for over 45 minutes at the Hospice’s AGM about dementia, discussing her mother Edna’s dementia diagnosis and how her experience of the disease led her to become an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society. Angela is passionate about reducing the stigma of dementia across our society and inspiring a dementia-friendly generation to get involved and change attitudes.
The Hospice of St Francis, which supports over 2,000 people a year living with a life-limiting illness and needs to raise over £5million annually, is investing to ensure it is equipped to meet the needs of patients with life-limiting conditions who also have dementia. Currently, the Hospice is researching the condition, has a dementia nurse who is working with local care homes to share best practice and is making its Inpatient Unit more visually dementia-friendly.
Steve Jamieson, CEO of The Hospice of St Francis, said, “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome Angela to our Hospice last week. Not only did she brighten up the lives of many of our patients and staff with her charming smile, but she was inspirational in opening eyes to the issues faced by people with dementia in their daily life.
“Personally, I am passionate about making The Hospice of St Francis a dementia-friendly community and alongside becoming Dementia Friends, we are investing in this area so we are able to offer the best possible care for those with life-limiting illness and dementia – as well as their loved ones - in the future.”
Nearly 100 people attended the AGM last Wednesday night (28th September) and before the meeting, enjoyed the opportunity to mingle and find out more about the Hospice’s work. The Hospice’s Impact Report, which outlines its key achievements during the financial year 2015/6, is now available on its website at: www.stfrancis.org.uk/impactreport