AYRSHIRE Hospice opened its doors to the Ayr Advertiser last week, and reporter Pippa Smith went along to see some of the great work that the hospice is doing.

With 185 employed staff and over 600 volunteer staff at the hospice, they work around the clock to give the best possible care to their patients and last year alone, the volunteers provided 126,038 hours of their time.

Within the hospice on Racecourse Road, there are 20 beds in the In Patient Unit (IPU) and they all have access to the gardens which is really important. 

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Katie Ronald, Head of Communications at Ayrshire Hospice said: “In the summer time its lovely as the garden acts as a sun trap so both the carers and patients can enjoy the weather instead of having to stay in doors.

“Part of the garden belongs to the grounds of the hospices building and the rest of the garden was given to the hospice by the neighbours which has given a lot more space to the area itself. 

“The patients and their families very regularly come out to the garden and if the patients from IPU cannot get out of their bed, we can bring their bed outside into the garden.”

The Wee House, which is situated in the garden grounds, is the hospices family care space. 

This building is very much a house, with its lounge, fully fitted and working kitchen, double bedroom, shower room and access to the hospices gardens, it is ideal for families visiting.

Katie added: “Very often if patients families are travelling quite far to visit or cannot see their family member on a regular basis, we try and make this space available to those families. 

“If patients are well enough and there is a special birthday or anniversary coming up, the hospice sets up the space for the patient and their husband or wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, and make it romantic for them. 

“They have had curry nights, DVD nights and lots of kind of nights for the families here.”

As part of breaking down barriers at Ayrshire Hospice, part of its care, involves ‘Solas’. This is for patients and families to come during the day between 10-3pm. 

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Katie says in Solas, there is a hair dressing salon which has a good offering for the patients as it has a big impact on them - just to get their hair done can make their day better.

She said: “There is a head wear advice service at the hair dressers so if any of the patients are suffering from hair loss due to treatment, we can offer them advice on turbans and wigs.

“Some of the turbans and head scarves were donated to the hospice by the Sewing Bee at Dumfries House, which was seen by Prince Charles when he visited Ayrshire Hospice last year.”

Solas offers three complimentary therapy rooms, with one full time employed complimentary therapy co-ordinator and a team of volunteers who deliver hand massages, Reiki, body massages and reflexology. 
Carers can also receives the complimentary therapy.

In Solas, there is the Family Care Centre, which was funded by the Co-op in 2013. 

It is a great place for children to come to for counselling or for the family care staff to speak to them. The hospice has ‘play therapy’ which is expression through art so they encourage the children to express their emotions through drawing or painting.

Due the rate of expansion at the Ayrshire Hospice, over a year ago it purchased a building across from it current building on Racecourse Road. 

The community team of nurses are based in the building already and they cover the whole of Ayrshire.

Katie says they visit people at their home, people who in hospital and are coming to the hospice and people who have been discharged and are now back at home.

She said: “The hospice also covers places like the Isle of Arran so its quite a large team to cover quite a large area.

“The team made over 4,500 visits around the area of Ayrshire.

“With the Respite and Response service, part of their role is crisis intervention so if a family has really got to breaking point after caring for a family member at home, the team of nurses can go in and help, short term, to relive the pressure.”

“The hospice makes sure that the carers are looked after as well, as part of the Respite and Response Service.”

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Aimee-Lee Brown who is a UWS graduate in Commercial Music took time out of her life to volunteer at the Ayrshire Hospice.

Aimee-Lee described her time volunteering as ‘worthwhile’, not only because she enjoyed helping others and could see the positive impact she was making, but also because of the skills and qualifications she had gained.

She joined the hospice in February 2016 as a volunteer in the community and day centre, Solas, and stayed with the hospice for three months. 
During that time, she ran a fulfilling project, performing live music for the patients. 

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The songs Aimee-Lee played were chosen by the patients, based on the special meaning they had and the many different memories they associated with each composition. 

The project was a part of ‘Playlist for Life’ initiative, which aims to help people by reviving memories through familiar music.
Aimee-Lee found her volunteer project of so much value she decided to write her Honours dissertation on it. 

She said: “For me, the most rewarding aspect of volunteering for the hospice was seeing patients’ positive reactions to the music I played and knowing I made their time more enjoyable. 

“Some patients started opening up to others and gained in confidence.”