St. Catherine’s Hospice has been caring for patients in Lostock Hall since 1985, but some historians believe the original building at the site was first founded as early as 1212 when the original owner, James de Lostock, lived in the area.
Hospices as an idea have existed since the Middle Ages, when sick or weary travellers would be taken into the safety of a certain part of a monastery where they were fed and watered and in some cases nursed back to health.
According to the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers, the word ‘hospice’ originated from the Latin ‘hospitum’, meaning ‘guest’ or ‘host’, and has been used by Christians since the 4th century.
The key difference between hospices and National Health Service hospitals is that a hospice provides palliative care to those who have illnesses which pose long term difficulties for patients, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.
Essentially palliative care deals with illness which is treatable, but not curable, and doesn’t attempt to hasten or postpone death, but make the quality of life of the effected people as pleasant and comfortable as possible.
As well as physical help, hospices give spiritual and emotional support, partly achieved by ensuring the patient is in a comfortable environment around others who know what they are experiencing, allowing them to be themselves.
Literally the term ‘palliative’ (from ‘pallum’) means ‘cloak’, and this is a principle which strives to maximise quality of life through hospices, the application of which has diversified in recent years to include chronic conditions and non-malignant disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis.
The current building can be dated back to 1764 in some parts, since the original building was destroyed by fire, and over the years it changed hands many times being owned by many prominent local figures such as Robert Orrell Esq. of Cuerden Mills from 1847-1861 and Harry Dewhurst of Messrs Geo & R. Dewhurst in 1881-1918.
After being formally established as St. Catherine’s Hospice (Lancashire) Limited in November 1981, the hospice began active care duties in 1984 with the appointment of a Home Care Sister, who oversees the care of patients, administration of medication and overall well-being of everyone at the hospice.
Soon the capacity of the building was too small, and so a £750,000 extension was built to provide around eight beds, which were opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1993.
In recent years, the hospice has grown and developed to one of the most prominent and successful hospices in the UK, and is able to take care of over 20 patients at any one time.
Only last year being granted £650,000 from the Department of Health, one of the largest NHS grants in the UK, and was part of £40million of Government funding dedicated to the UK’s 146 officially recognised hospices (the NAHF puts the figure at over 200).
Funding for the hospice is continually in flux though, and as a result funds must be secured six to 12 months in advance, to ensure financial security.
Overall it is funding comprises of: 30% from the NHS, 26% from the National Lottery, 20% from public donations and 18% from personal legacies, amounting to around £2.5million a year.
On top of that, St. Catherine’s gains about 20% of its funding from fundraising events, which emphasises how important things like the fun run are to the continued running of a charity which helps many people around Lostock Hall and Lancashire.