This week, from the 10th to 16th May, Dying Matters is holding its annual Awareness Week, with the theme this year focusing on the importance of being in a good place to die. With studies showing that more people than ever are dying at home in the UK, we speak to Community Nurse Specialist, Olivia Beeney-Bennett about the care that is delivered by the St Wilfrid’s Community Nursing Team.

The Community Nursing Team is out seven days a week, supporting patients in their own homes or in care homes, and work in partnership with GPs and the District Nursing Team. Between 2019 and 2020 the team made 5,271 visits to 1,337 patients.

So, what does a typical patient visit look like? 

‘Before we visit a patient, there’s a lot of preparation,’ Olivia explains. ‘We have to review their notes, get an idea about who they are (who they live with, whether they have children or a dog, for example), make a note of where they live and check things like whether they have a key safe. We also have to make sure that the car is stocked with the right equipment and medication.

‘Once we arrive and have put on the correct PPE, we will sit down with the patient and talk through their illness with them. We discuss what they want help with – physically and psychologically – and help to put together a package of care that works for them. These needs may change as we continue to visit them, so we’re always ready to adapt to those changes. Their family members are often there too, so we discuss with them how the hospice can support them in any way. It’s important to allow them to ask questions.’

Olivia Beeney-Bennett

Like the Inpatient Unit, where some patients may just come in for respite, some patients in the community only need a short intervention and will not need to see the team for a long time after the initial visit. Others, however, may require visits more frequently – a couple of times a week or once a fortnight, for example.

The patients will also be visited by other members of the Multidisciplinary Team, such as the Doctors, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Complementary Therapists, and the Care at Home Team.

‘We work closely with our own hospice team,’ Olivia tells us. ‘We may make joint visits, or if we notice that a patient needs more support, we can liaise with whoever can help to get that support in place quickly. If it’s a patient’s wish to die in their own home, it’s important that they’re comfortable, and we will work with the different teams to ensure that.’

‘As well as the physical side, making sure that their symptoms are well controlled, a big part of our role is taking the time to sit and talk to the patient. We talk about their worries and fears, but also about their life and more positive things. It’s important to make them feel like they’re more than their illness. I love hearing about their achievements and other special memories, like their favourite holidays.

‘We also support them in tying up any ‘loose ends’, such as their will, their funeral, or where their pets are going to go, and making sure that their family are supported.

‘Sometimes they want to take one last look at the sea, or the garden, and we help them with that too.’


There is no right or wrong place to die; it will be different for everyone. But it is important for families to think about it, to talk about it and to plan for it. We want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care in place. Make sure that you and your loved ones are in a good place to die; visit dyingmatters.org

Each home visit to a patient costs £40. By sponsoring a home visit today, you will be making a huge difference to one of our patients and their family. You will also receive a special Ruby Anniversary pin badge! Visit stwhospice.org/rubysupporter