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Terminally ill Bjorn urges public to back St Peter’s Hospice Room To Care Appeal

PUBLISHED: 07:01 22 October 2017

Bjorn Hoffmann wtih his wife Cathryn and their sons Charlie and Harry.

Bjorn Hoffmann wtih his wife Cathryn and their sons Charlie and Harry.

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A Nailsea man, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year, has urged North Somerset Times readers to support St Peter’s Hospice’s Room To Care Appeal.

With £1.5million needed to be raised to pay for an inpatients’ unit in just one year, every penny counts.

But for Bjorn Hoffmann’s, as of March, his life was like many 42-year-old’s.

He was a keen swimmer and lived with his wife Cathryn and their sons Harry and Charlie in Nailsea, but he started to get stomach pain in March.

Fast-forward seven months
and he has chemotherapy every three weeks for a terminal cancer which baffles doctors who do
not know where it originated from.

A bird's eye view of what the overhauled hospice will look like. Picture: St Peter's Hospice. A bird's eye view of what the overhauled hospice will look like. Picture: St Peter's Hospice.

While the treatment can leave Bjorn unwell and struggling, for the most part he is still able to carry on with his day-to-day life as normal.

But he benefits enormously from St Peter’s Hospice’s care at home team who pay regular visits to check how Bjorn is not just physically, but also mentally given his life has changed almost overnight.

Jane was allocated as Bjorn’s main nurse contact – he has her phone number and can call her morning, noon or night if he has any questions or concerns which cannot keep until one of her visits.

“Likewise, when she is away, Bjorn can phone any of the other nurses working for the care at home team.

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Bjorn said: “It’s made a huge difference, especially in my case where it’s a terminal diagnosis.

“There’s a limited amount to what can be achieved (medically) so the biggest issue is psychological so it’s that emotional support which is crucial. For me that’s the most important thing, especially for my family, as that’s who will be left behind.”

The hospice gives a great deal of thought to families affected. Each patient it looks after invariably has many loved ones who are equally touched by the illness.

It is why the rebuilt unit will give room for relatives to stay overnight with every patient, but the hospice does lots of other things to help. Its family-orientated ethos is not new.

What your donations could mean for the hospice. What your donations could mean for the hospice.

Bjorn, speaking of Jane, said: “She will come around for general chats which is nice to have face-to-face.

“She’s there as a general lifeline and as a knowledgeable person; if she can’t help, she will know someone who will. It’s a really lovely safety net.”

The family’s value of that support has been exemplified by 13-year-old Harry and 12-year-old Charlie. Both have raised thousands through a charity head-shave and a sponsored swimming event at Backwell Leisure Centre respectively.

Most people when they think of the hospice imagine it only treats people within its inpatients’ unit. However, that is not the case – and certainly not for Bjorn.

With the hospice’s inpatients’ unit relocating to Keynsham for a year so building work can be carried out at Brentry – and the number of available beds reduced to 10 – there is an even greater need for the care at home team. Staff numbers have been increased for North Somerset in anticipation of greater demand while the hospice is further away.

MORE: St Peter’s Hospice launches Room To Care Appeal.

Bjorn said the care at home programme has exceeded his expectations.

He said: “What’s impressed me is that I expected a lot of support from charities further down the line, but right from the start I received help, even when I don’t think I need a lot.

“I’m outwardly well but I have still had that support.

“The support is very professional and knowledgeable abut it’s done in such a human way – more so than in a hospital.”

He urged people to get behind the Room To Care Appeal because the planned redevelopment will make such a difference to people going through a similar scenario to him.

Bjorn said: “It has matched what I hoped a hospice would be like. It is not in any way depressing.”

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