Fundraising boost for district nurses

Over £5,800 has been raised for the District Nursing Team in Workington by the family and friends of one of our patients.

Sue Tooth and family friends Kevin and Wendy O’Neil decided to raise money for the team who had taken care of Sue’s husband Don.

Don Tooth had several surgeries for cancer and stays in hospital over a period of 5 years, and the district nursing team visited him at home throughout his recovery each time. In September 2014, Don and his wife Sue were told that his condition was terminal and he had surgery to remove a tumour on his spine to improve the quality of his remaining time. He came home from hospital in December and the district nurses visited him every day, sometimes twice a day, until he passed away in March 2015.

At one visit from the district nurses, Don and his best friend Kevin O’Neil heard about one of the nurses who had been stranded when her car broke down in an area without mobile phone signal. They were both concerned that these nurses, who are often out in rural areas alone did not have access to a satellite phone to ensure that they would always be able to communicate with their colleagues when they were out visiting patients.

After Don passed away, Kevin decided to find a way of raising funds to purchase the District Nurses at least one satellite phone in Don’s memory.

He arranged a Golf Competition at Workington Golf Club, followed by a prize presentation for the winning golfers and an evening social event, with refreshments, a raffle, an auction, stand up bingo, pitch and toss and entertainment. Wendy and Sue contacted and visited local businesses and thanks to their generosity, over 60 prizes were donated for the raffle. The fun-filled event far exceeded expectations, and enough money was raised to not only purchase two satellite phones with a two year contract, but to buy other well-needed equipment for the nursing team. This included 2 emergency grab bags, so that the nurses had all the equipment they need for any eventuality ready to go when they are doing their visits, a limb support system to aid with changing dressings, together with disposable slings, 4 sets of weighing scales with carry cases and 25 high dependency bed sheets for moving patients.

Sue Tooth said “The nurses visited Don every day following surgery. They provided complex wound care and symptom management. They would make him comfortable – helping him get a wash and even putting aftershave on him. It’s the little touches that show they care. I always felt like I was fully supported and that I could just pick up the phone and they would be there for me. If there were any issues they would get on to the GP and make sure that Don was okay. After everything the team had done for us over the years, Don wanted to give something back – and came up with the idea of buying a satellite phone. They are very expensive, but we hoped we would raise enough money to buy one – we couldn’t believe we raised enough to buy 2 plus lots more equipment!” 

Louise Freeman, District Nursing Sister for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said “District nursing is a challenging but very rewarding role. No two days are the same. We see lots of patients with various complex needs, at all times of day and night. It’s a privilege to do this job get to know our patients and their families and build up trusting relationship with them as we help them to make decision and manage their needs. We cannot thank Sue, Wendy and Kevin enough for all their fundraising efforts. This equipment will enhance patient care – having access to several sets of weighing scales mean that we can take them out to more visits with us and monitor patient’s weight trying to prevent deterioration. The moving and handling aids will improve the safety of both patients and staff, especially when providing palliative care, as patients often want to be nursed in their own bed that is familiar to them. The satellite phones are such a bonus for us as lone workers - it means when staff are visiting rural areas with poor signal, they can be reassured that they can always get in touch with someone.”