Project information

Improving the quality of life at the end of life

Our Big Idea is to offer hospice counselling to patients family and friends to help them live well towards the end of their life, make important choices, resolve conflicts and be at peace. Counselling is an integral part of palliative care and helping people prepare for a good death.

January 2017 - December 2017

Charity information: St Peter & St James Hospice

St Peter & St James Hospice logo
  • Need


    Receiving a life limiting diagnosis can be a frightening, stressful and challenging experience. It is also a time when people need to make important decisions and address unresolved issues. Death is often not spoken about in families, or society, and people’s instinct is often to protect those closest to them and not talk about their feelings and wishes. This can be damaging to overall well-being and mean people do not prepare for their death.


    Our project will offer patients, and their loved ones, a safe, confidential and neutral space to talk about their feelings, concerns and fears. People can have up to 12, one-hour long sessions, either on their own or with other family members (or a mixture of both). Talking with trained, empathic counsellors can help people resolve their concerns & fears, reduce anxiety and strengthen emotional resilience. This can improve their quality of life and help them prepare for a more peaceful death.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To help patients live well at the end of their life and prepare for a peaceful, ‘good’ death.


    » Allow people to talk about their fears & anxieties, which can improve their well-being and quality of life eg “…I feel I can go forward”
    » Facilitate people to have honest conversations with family & resolve conflicts eg “S finished his business, became calm & died 24 hours later.”
    » Enable people to consider what is important to them & how they can achieve this in the time left eg their hopes, regrets and legacy
    » Help people to affirm life and regard dying as a normal process

    Success will be: Patients feeling better prepared for their death whilst enjoying the best quality of life remaining to them.

    Aim 2

    To reduce the acute anxiety a patient can feel when faced with a life limiting diagnosis


    » Provide a safe, confidential space where patients can talk about their uncertainties and fears eg “I feel a lot calmer”
    » Empower patients to talk with family members about their wishes, & facilitate family counselling where appropriate
    » Through talking, help patients adjust to their life-limiting diagnosis , helping them live well towards the end of their life

    Success will be: Patients stating they feel less anxious and stressed, more able to discuss their concerns, fears & emotions and feel their quality of life is improved.

    Aim 3

    To reduce stress for families as they support, prepare for & cope with the death of their loved one


    » Provide a place where family/friends can manage their feelings & fears about the patient’s diagnosis and its impact on their relationship
    » Facilitate patients & families to talk about difficult communications & resolve conflicts eg “We didn’t know how to talk about what was happening.”
    » Enable families to feel more in control
    » To support families before & after the bereavement eg preparing for their loss, normalising grief, adjusting to change and enjoying memories

    Success will be: Families feeling empowered to support their loved one, experiencing a normal grieving process and holding positive memories of their loved ones.

    Aim 4

    To integrate a patient’s psycho-social care with their disease management & symptom control


    » Help patients feel empowered to communicate their choices to their clinical team and family eg about pain relief, the place & manner of their death
    » Raise patients awareness of welfare, complementary therapies & other services which can help and support them and their family
    » Coordinate, where appropriate, with the clinical team, particularly in areas the patient has anxieties eg pain, process of dying

    Success will be: Patients experiencing integrated care, making choices about their end of life care and dying in the manner and place of their choosing

  • Impact


    • More people will die at peace and in a place & manner of their choosing
    • Families will be at peace, have positive memories and a natural grieving process rather than a complicated one, which can arise where there are unresolved emotional issues or issues in the manner of their relative’s death
    • People will be less reluctant, or frightened, to talk about death
    • Increased take up of counselling services & enquiries about volunteer placements
    • Indicators will be numerical data & feedback


    The main risk is not being able to meet demand for counselling services. We address this by offering volunteer trainee placements. We have 22 volunteers working alongside 3 part-time employed counsellors.
    There is risk that counselling uncovers unresolved past trauma. This is managed by using qualified and experienced counsellors and supervision processes, enabling counsellor and patient to come to terms with, or accept, past difficult experiences. All counsellors receive supervision.


    A report will detail numbers of patients & families seen, counselling hours & sessions and volunteer counsellors supported. The impact will be measured by comments from patients & family members and post bereavement interviews with families, where possible. We can also offer a visit to the hospice.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £27,600 Salaries 3 part-time counsellors (equiv to 1 f/t position)
      £6,180 Supervision & training Regular supervision & CPD training for volunteer and employed counsellors
      £3,830 volunteer expenses travel expenses for volunteers who are conducting counselling in the client's home.
      £2,390 Management expenses & overhead Contribution to Service Manager' Salary and overheads.
  • Background


    We have provided hospice services for people living in Mid-Sussex since 1975. Mid-Sussex is a rural and urban district with a catchment of 200,000 people and a diverse socio-economic profile, with pockets of deprivation. The age profile is slightly higher than average (18.2% of the population are over 65) and projected to grow significantly in the coming years, with a particular increase in the numbers of over 75s. Hence there is an increasing demand for hospice services.


    Beneficiaries will be local people with life limiting conditions (including cancers, advanced organ failure, neurological disorders and AIDS related illnesses) and their loved ones. Those using the service will have expressed some fears, unresolved issues, grief or a need to talk that counselling can help resolve and which will complement their overall well-being. This project also offers opportunities for counsellors who are in training to volunteer and gain experience and skills.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are an established hospice, with an excellent local reputation and the skills & experience to deliver this project. Our Clinical, Wellbeing and Management teams work together to deliver the best possible outcome for patients. The Counselling service is established and held in high regard. Last year we received 232 new referrals and held 1,626 consultations. We have 3 qualified counsellors supported by 22 qualified and trainee volunteer counsellors who specialise in pre and post bereavement

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Melanie Lockett Head Of Wellbeing Services

    Head of Wellbeing Services. Senior accredited counsellor & supervisor with 26 years experience in hospice & oncology work. Counsels & manages.

    Alison Thorne, Counsellor

    Senior accredited counsellor. 20 years experience including couples & group work, a background in psychology and health sector experience.

    Les Shilling

    One of our 22 qualified, experienced & trainee volunteer counsellors. Providing 44+ hours counselling a week they are essential to the project.

    Colin Burgess

    Chief Executive. Manages the Head of Wellbeing Services. Over 30 years experience within the health sector.

Introduction to Wellbeing & Counselling Services

I could talk to my counsellor about how frightened I was, I didn't have to be strong with him.

Counselling Client (we do keep our clients anonymous due to the sensitive nature of counselling)