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A North Lincolnshire hospice has scooped a top prize at a prestigious national awards ceremony in Liverpool dedicated to recognising innovation in hospice and end of life care in local communities across the UK.

Staff from Lindsey Lodge Hospice attended the ninth annual Hospice UK Awards –  supported by The National Garden Scheme – to collect their ‘Innovation in Care Award’ for their work in supporting people with life-limiting conditions and their families to enjoy the many benefits of gardening, thanks to grant funding of its first polytunnel.

Lindsey Lodge Hospice Chief Executive Karen Griffiths said: “We are delighted to have picked up this Hospice UK Award!

“There are around 200 hospices in the UK, so to be selected as one of only eight winners – and the only one in the Yorkshire and Humber region – is a great achievement for our team.

“As the need for hospice services and our associated running costs increase, we, like many charity-run hospices in 2019, have faced a hugely challenging year financially.

“This award acknowledges that despite these challenges, our passion for innovation continues to shine through and demonstrates our commitment to providing the best possible care for our patients and their families.”

She added: “We are continually looking at new ways to fund our care, and this award winning project was funded thanks to a grant from Santander, which has brought so much joy to patients and staff alike. I am sincerely grateful to everyone involved for making it such a success.”

The Lindsey Lodge polytunnel – which provides a microclimate of higher temperatures and humidity enabling fruit and vegetables to be grown even out of season.

A patient had earlier introduced the use of hydroponics – a method of growing plants without soil and using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent – which means there is no need for labour-intensive activities such as watering, or digging.

The polytunnel was designed to be accessible for everyone, including those who use a wheelchair or are unable to stand for long periods of time, enabling a range of patients and their families to cultivate plants and vegetables through conventional gardening and also using the hydroponics system.

The polytunnel has brought patients together, as well as sparking interest with families, staff and volunteers. Families visiting patients can enjoy some alternative ‘respite’ time. Also, the hospice’s bereavement support assistant has led sessions inside it which has helped with more open and honest discussions among people receiving this vital support.

Karen Griffiths said: “As well as providing a therapeutic oasis, the produce from our polytunnel has been put to good use in creating healthy and nutritious meals in our Meet and Eat Restaurant for patients and the public to enjoy, so we look forward to developing the project in years to come.”

Commenting on the reason for choosing the Lindsey Lodge project for the award, judges said: “This was work that was started with people with lived experience and is not staff-led or meeting a service development need or shortfall – so in our eyes a true innovation. It focusses on wellbeing. It is not an expensive innovation and was relevant to all people accessing hospice and end of life care and their families.”  

PHOTO1: Wellbeing Centre Manager, Sarah Hodge is pictured receiving the award with Chief Executive of Hospice UK, Tracey Bleakley and Chair of the National Garden Scheme, Martin McMillan OBE. Photographer Jonathan Goldberg

PHOTO2: Wellbeing Patient Keith Alcock is pictured presenting produce to the Lindsey Lodge Catering Team.

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