Strathcarron Hospice chief’s heartfelt 'thank you' for 40 years of support

No words could truly reflect how grateful Irene McKie is to members of the public for the way they’ve supported Strathcarron Hospice over the decades.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:45 pm

The chief executive of the Fankerton facility, which has provided specialist care and love to the terminally ill since 1981, knows as well as anyone just how vital offers of donations and voluntary work are.

Nearing its 40th anniversary, on April 21, the hospice has experienced arguably its toughest ever 12 months due to coronavirus, despite being “bailed out” by the government.

Still managing to look after 1400 patients annually, staff have been forced to adapt their services and the way in which they work.

Strathcarron Hospice chief executive Irene McKie and her colleagues are enormously grateful for the support the facility has received as it approaches its 40th anniversary. Picture: Michael Gillen.

With its 16 shops shut and most fundraising made impossible, the facility faces a £1.5 million deficit and has had to spend £120,000 on computer technology since last March to continue functioning.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the phenomenal backing Strathcarron’s received from residents of Falkirk district even in the midst of a pandemic.

Speaking to The Falkirk Herald as part of our Support Our Strathcarron campaign, Ms McKie said: “Thank you to everyone because we wouldn’t be here without you.

“Over the years there’s never been a time when most of the money didn’t come from the public. When they’re giving you a donation, it's like they’re buying a share and saying they’re part of you, which is lovely.

“Most people give us money and get nothing back in return because they like what we do or maybe know somebody who has benefitted.

“People are being incredibly generous, not just with their money but their time. Over the years we’ve had a lot of volunteers doing unsung roles but it all makes a difference and it’s what makes the hospice special.”

Once involved in NHS management, Ms McKie has been at Strathcarron for 14 years.

The level of care its doctors, nurses and 900-odd volunteers can give to those they look after is what sets the hospice apart, according to its chief executive.

Whether it’s helping patients make memory boxes or offering at-home advice, the hospice has helped hundreds throughout the pandemic.

Ms McKie explained: “The way we look after people is very different. It’s about what really matters to the person and you only get one chance so we’ve got to get it right.

“We offer a far more sophisticated, professional and complex service than people realise.

“Several years ago we got into a position where the majority of our patients didn’t physically come into our building.

“We still have patients but over the years the number of referrals has gone up and we’re supporting people in their own homes because that's where they want to be.

“We’ve trebled the number of community nurse specialists. Because of Covid, a lot of people were trying to get out the hospice because they were scared of being alone. It’s really important to them to be in their own space.

“We’re also doing a huge amount of community development work. There’s a lot of evidence that says if you’re dying, you die twice: you die socially before you die physically.

“People stop getting in touch with you because they don’t know what to say. That’s tough so we’re trying to help people stay supported in their communities.”

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