‘It’s about the person – their wishes are at the heart of it’: Meet the team behind Lilian Faithfull Care’s new specialist palliative care suite

With its brand-new facility dedicated to palliative care opening this July 2022, SoGlos spoke to the team at Lilian Faithfull Care about the support its new Fairhaven Suite in Cheltenham will provide.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Offering specialist end-of-life care to residents and support to their families, Lilian Faithfull Cares new Fairhaven Suite opens in Cheltenham this July 2022.
Offering specialist end-of-life care to residents and support to their families, Lilian Faithfull Care’s new Fairhaven Suite opens in Cheltenham this July 2022.

Well-known for providing elderly care across its care homes and day care hubs in Gloucestershire, Lilian Faithfull Care is opening a brand-new end-of-life care suite this July 2022.

With the design guided by its experienced nursing team, the Fairhaven Suite at St Faith’s Nursing Home in Cheltenham is one of the only dedicated suites in the county to provide specialist palliative care to adults in their final days – and SoGlos spoke to the team to find out all about the care and support it offers.

About the experts – Karen Barry, Teresa Weis, Pauline Okposi and Suzanne Booker from Lilian Faithfull Care

Lilian Faithfull Care is a charity providing residential, nursing and dementia care to patients at its five homes and two day care hubs in Gloucestershire – with its new end-of-life care facility, the Fairhaven Suite, opening in Cheltenham this July 2022.

Pictured with Lady Bathurst, who is a patron of Lilian Faithfull care, Karen Barry is the head nurse at St Faith’s, where Lilian Faithfull Care’s new Fairhaven Suite is located; Teresa Weis is the home manager at St Faith’s; Pauline Okposi is the clinical lead at St Faith’s; and Suzanne Booker is the director of care at Lilian Faithfull Care.

Lilian Faithfull Care is opening a brand-new end-of-life care facility, the Fairhaven Suite at St Faith’s in Cheltenham. What is an end-of-life care suite?

Weis: The Fairhaven Suite offers specialist end-of-life care with comfort, peace and dignity for adults in their final days, weeks or months. It gives families and friends quality time together, knowing that the best of end-of-life care is on hand. Staff take time to find out each person’s wishes for their final days and staff work closely with the family to carry out these plans.

The suite is away from the main nursing home, where our other specialism is dementia; the idea is that it will be peaceful.

Barry: As a suite, it is where families can also feel at home and be part of the end-of-life journey.

Booker: The person is at the heart of their care, so it is very personalised to them; it is about making the suite feel as homely as it can, as least clinical as possible, to make people feel comfortable and comply with as many wishes as we can. It is very interactive with the person.

Okposi: People are able to bring things they like that give them comfort, we have space for them to be able to do that here.

Booker: Your room is treated as your own home and we respect individuals’ choices and lifestyles. People can come and go as they want.

What facilities does the new suite have?

Booker: The Fairhaven Suite consists of nine spacious and fully accessible suites, which include ensuite wet rooms. Each has a high-tech bed, which offers maximum comfort and flexibility, a large recliner chair, Smart TV and Wi-Fi. The high ceilings and big windows also mean the rooms are full of light and character.

The Fairhaven Suite has been created to be a ‘home from home’. With this in mind, there are two lounges and two kitchens for visitors to use.

The lounge gives people time out. Everyone can have some personal space, which is really important.

Weis: We put two kitchens in, so there is always one nearby for a piece of toast or a coffee.

Booker: This is in addition to the refreshments and food always available from the catering team, so these facilities are about offering family and friends flexibility, independence and privacy, which can be particularly valued at this time.

The rooms are big, so they can easily be reconfigured to suit the situation. There is room away from the bedside, whether to work or have a moment of quiet, but to still be with their loved one in the room.

Barry: The wet rooms mean that they can have their own shower, their own space – you can do everything in that room if you want to.

Weis: If you want a soak in the bath, we have a fully integrated bath with a hoist available as well.

The Fairhaven Suite has fully accessible bathrooms for residents and their families. 

Coming to terms with being put on end-of-life care must be extremely difficult, for residents and their families. How does Lilian Faithfull Care help people through this?

Weis: It is always an individual, personalised approach.

Okposi: All are at different stages of the process, some are very accepting, others are still coming to terms with their situation, so it is weighing that up and giving them support at their particular level and meeting them on their journey.

Weis: For those that want it, we can access pastoral support from various churches and counselling services, too. Sometimes people just want to talk and choose a particular person.

What does end-of-life care entail? Can you describe some of the day-to-day things you do for residents on end-of-life care?

Barry: It is about looking after the whole person, no matter what stage they are at. You are looking after their physical needs, making sure their symptoms are under control, but also their psychological needs, their social needs, their comfort – and their families. It is about making sure they are as comfortable as they can be, whatever that entails.

Weis: You can be at the end of your life, but still living life. We support people to go out; one person recently went out to see their favourite band the week before they died.

Okposi: There is no timeline to the care here, it reflects the person’s wishes.

Can families make regular visits to loved ones on end-of-life care? How does Lilian Faithfull Care facilitate this?

Booker: Yes! There is open visiting, so people can visit day or night. Families can stay – they can even live here if they want to.

Weis: We can put another bed up, or use an extending chair, so they can stay in the same room as their loved one, or we have a sofa bed in a private room if they prefer.

Booker: Even if the home is closed due to infection control measures, we make special arrangements for those visiting people who are receiving end-of-life care.

Barry: For those relatives who choose to stay at their own home, they are always asked if they want calls during the night.

Rooms can be configured to suit residents' needs and have plenty of room for family members to stay close by. 

How do you keep people comfortable in their last days and weeks?

Barry: We make sure the care is based on the wishes of the person. Often, we would already have formed an advanced care plan for that stage to make sure we have everything in place to keep them comfortable, both physically and otherwise.

Booker: But this doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind – we would respond to any changing wishes.

What can family members do to provide comfort and reassurance to their relatives?

Booker: Each person and each family is different.

Barry: You need to talk to them and ask what is right for them.

What support is available to family members to help them cope with the loss of a loved one?

Barry: Palliative care is about supporting the families as well, and Lilian Faithfull Care staff are always available to talk as they support their loved ones.

We have leaflets and information on hand and the staff can advise on next steps, supporting them through the last few hours and beyond. We also offer counselling.

Booker: We don’t close the door, the door is always open to talk – some people get a lot of comfort from that. We have had family members coming back regularly, finding comfort in keeping the link with the people and place.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Weis: Going off shift knowing you’ve made a difference.

Barry: Knowing you’ve done your best for the person and their family.

Okposi: The most rewarding part for me is when a family turns around and says thank you. Honestly that is just it.

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