Loros is set to expand its services into the Rutland community thanks a new partnership with Uppingham Surgery.
Currently, Loros runs a 31-bed hospice in Groby Road, Leicester, which offers end of life and palliative care to patients from across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and support services to patients’ families. It also offers day therapy, a home visiting team and outpatient clinics, helping more than 2,500 people every year in total.
A grant from the NHS of about a third of what it takes to fund the service is received but Loros has to raise more than £5.5m every year to make up the shortfall.
But at the launch event of the expanded Rutland services on Tuesday, the charity’s chief executive John Knight acknowledged that Leicester was too far for patients in the county to travel.
Loros doctors will be providing specialist clinics to patients from across the county with terminal illnesses from the base at Uppingham Surgery, with counselling and bereavement support as well and education services. It is hoped this will be in place by the end of the year and will operate on at least a monthly basis, helping upwards of 200 patients.
A community engagement nurse will also be employed for the county to talk to people about the services Loros offers and where people can best access them.
The charity is also planning to launch a bespoke ‘mobile resource’ bus which will visit both Uppingham and Oakham, as well as further afield in Leicestershire. The aim of this mobile unit is to deliver some clinical services as well as providing education sessions on the services Loros offers.
Mr Knight said Loros had been investigating expansion into Rutland for his entire time in the role - 20 months - and was based on patient feedback.
He said: “The decision to expand beyond the hospice is a big priority for us and this is the first step in an exciting journey for us.”
He said Loros had investigated being based at the new Dove Cottage day hospice which is set to open in Ridlington but sadly the plan was not viable. But he said Loros would be working in partnership with Dove Cottage - with both offering vital services for patients.
He said: “No organisation is an island especially in today’s world and we have to work in partnership with both the NHS and the wider voluntary sector.
“As people get to know we’re here, I’d expect the numbers to increase and I personally would love to see it develop to more than monthly so we can help as many people as possible.”
Director of strategy and development at Loros Karen Ashcroft added: “We’re really pleased to be announcing this news and it’s so great to see how excited Loros staff are getting too.
“Nationally and locally, the feedback provided by patient and carer groups states that wherever possible people want care to be provided closer to home.
“After meeting with local clinicians in Rutland, we discovered that a lot of residents in the area said travelling to Groby Road is too far and identified the need for our services to be delivered closer to them.
“While we already have fantastic home visiting volunteers and community nurse specialists at Loros, we’re looking at building upon our community services by offering care in a clinically safe environment in Uppingham.”
GP and partner at Uppingham Surgery Dr Anu Kalra said everyone at the surgery was delighted to be involved.
She said: “This will be of huge benefit to patients in Rutland. It is always difficult because although you have excellent facilities at Loros’ Groby Road site in Leicester and Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough, none of them are near, and this will make a big difference. I’m delighted to be a part of it.”
Echoing that sentiment was the High Sheriff of Rutland Dr Sarah Furness, who told the assembled guests: “For us in rural Rutland, Leicester can seem very far away and the journey is not straight forward, particularly for those who are in pain and feel every bump in the road.
“I am so pleased that Loros is going to have a presence here in Rutland.”
Nina Storer, 49, who lives in Houghton-on-the-Hill, knows first-hand the benefits Loros can bring. She was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in May 2013 and started attending weekly day therapy sessions earlier this year, being transported by a volunteer Loros driver.
She also recently spent a week at Loros to change her pain medication.
Nina, a single mother, said: “It’s surprising that by visiting Loros for just one day a week so much can be taken care of in mind and body. It’s quite remarkable because they recognise the care you need before you even know it yourself and I feel very safe and supported there and very positive.
“I think sometimes people in Rutland feel a little bit isolated from the services that Loros provides and I think this expansion will make such a difference.
“I really identified with what the High Sheriff was saying about the journey as well - I’ve often gone for appointments at Groby Road and after 45 minutes of driving, you just think you’ve had enough before you’ve even done anything.
“I think it will be really well received and will make such a big difference in Rutland.”