£500,000 shortfall in last year dispels myth that hospice 'will always be OK'
Hospice Care Week (9th - 16th October) offers a chance to raise awareness of the vital services provided in communities right across the country, dispelling common myths about what hospice care is all about.
One such myth that North Devon Hospice’s Chief Executive, Stephen Roberts, would like to address is that the charity is always able to raise sufficient funds to provide the care needed locally. However, the reality is that the need for hospice care in North Devon has risen considerably, but the amount of funds donated to provide such care has not.
“As a local charity, it is a fact that we are struggling.” said Stephen. “Every year more and more people need the support of the hospice, as sadly there is an increase in the number of people affected by life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, MND, lung disease and heart failure. While our doctors, nurses, counsellors and therapists do an amazing job providing the most outstanding care, we are struggling to raise the necessary funds to make that all possible.”
He added, “When speaking to the community about the work of the hospice, there is a myth that we are tremendously well supported financially. People say, ‘Oh, you’re the hospice, you’ll always be OK.’ But I can tell you now, that with the current trend of more care being needed and less money being donated, we will not be OK.”
Last financial year, the hospice posted a deficit of around £500,000 due to a substantial drop in donations as well as gifts in wills. While the charity was able to sustain that hit for one year due to previous financial prudence, it is not sustainable on an on-going basis. Stephen said that figure of half a million pounds may shock people, but hopes that it inspires them to take action. “If people believe the myth that the hospice will always be OK, or that their support is better directed elsewhere, we will not be able to provide the care this community needs in the future. We care for thousands of people every year through the toughest of times, and with a stretched local NHS and reduced public services, our care will be more vital than ever going forward. But we can’t fulfil our charitable mission of being there for all the family without the support of our whole community.”
Stephen said he wanted to ensure people were aware that North Devon Hospice is a local charity, not just in the fact that all of care is dedicated to the local community, but that North Devon Hospice’s ability to fundraise is limited to North Devon too. “Raising funds is a constant struggle. We need to work extremely hard because there is a small population here and, unlike other charities who can fundraise across the whole of Devon and further afield, we are only able to raise funds from the North Devon population.” he said. “There is a simple equation which means that less money raised equals less care provided. I know for so many local families that would have devastating consequences. I think back to a time earlier this year when all of the patients that we were caring for on our Bedded Unit were all under 45 years old. To think of the trauma those young families were going through, and to think that someday we might not be able to support them, truly made me sad.”
There are many ways to support the work of North Devon Hospice, and small actions really can have amazing consequences in someone’s life. “So please, if you are able to support those we are caring for, I’d encourage you to visit the North Devon Hospice website and sign up for a small monthly donation.” Stephen added. “For the price of a cup of coffee per month, you will be helping local people get the care they need during the toughest of times. We are proud and privileged to be here for North Devon, but only because of North Devon.”
Hospice Care Week runs from 9th – 15th October. To find out more about the care provided by North Devon Hospice, or to make a donation towards the charity’s work, please visit www.northdevonhospice.org.uk.