The heart is made of wool stitched inside linen, and it comes with a small bottle of essential oil to “help calm our patients and give them that settled feeling”.

Emily Ireland

For people who are referred to Hospice Wairarapa, Wendy Turton is their first point of contact.

As clinical services manager, it’s Wendy’s job to meet patients, support their families, and identify gaps in available services to support them in their palliative journey.

Services provided by Hospice Wairarapa include massage, caregiver support, podiatry service, counselling, patient biographies, and day activity programmes.

Wendy refers to these services as “accessories” and said it was up to the patient to decide which accessories they needed.

“Some people don’t need anything extra and are happy with how their life is, and others do need our services.

“But we’re not just looking out for the patient – it’s very much about supporting the family because we recognise the family are doing the hard yards.”

Each of the services offered by Hospice Wairarapa are based on a need – “it’s about looking at what can benefit people”.

“We do bits and pieces like dropping baking off, right through to services like counselling and massage.”

Wendy said people often thought counselling was about “having a problem and addressing it”.

“But it’s actually about dumping all the emotions, the questions, doubt, coming to grips with what is happening in our lives, and finding purpose out of that.

“It’s really important that people know they have a place and that there is always a need for their contribution.

“Everything we do is about acknowledging where people are at, but also having some fun with the life we have.

“It’s about being very grateful for what we have.”

Wendy said referrals to Hospice Wairarapa came from GPs, the DHB’s palliative care service Kahukura, hospitals, and “sometimes, people will just walk in”.

At the first meeting with people who require hospice care, Wendy will bring them donated baked goods and a signature Hospice Wairarapa heart made by volunteers.

The heart is made of wool stitched inside linen, and it comes with a small bottle of essential oil to “help calm our patients and give them that settled feeling”.

“The heart lets them know that there are a lot of people thinking about them and we are here if they need us.”

“The expression on the faces of those I give it to … there’s a huge power in that.

“It is a really hard time, and we talk about the palliative ‘journey’, but it’s actually a really tough road.

“Some people are ready for it, and some people aren’t, and our job is to let people know that either way, it’s okay.

“It’s pretty special and we meet some amazing people.”

Next week: Wellness therapies

This is the eighth in a 10-part Midweek series bringing awareness to the community about Hospice Wairarapa in an effort to increase support for the charity.