Annual Remembrance Tree supports Hospice, which needs our help more than ever

South Tipperary Hospice is 21 years old this year – and facing greater demands than ever.

South Tipperary Hospice is 21 years old this year – and facing greater demands than ever.

The Hospice homecare nurses now have around 120 patients on their books at any one time, and the majority of the funding for the excellent service they provide comes from the people of South Tipperary, with only a small amount of money provided by the Government.

21 years ago, when South Tipperary Hospice was founded, the team was looking after around 30 patients, so there’s been a huge increase in the numbers they care for.

The good news is that in years gone by the hospice was caring for patients who could no longer benefit from treatment. Nowadays, however, the nurses look after cancer and Motor Neurone Disease sufferers while they are undergoing treatment, helping them cope with their tough diagnosis, providing support for them and their families and acting as a liaison between the hospital and the home.

Home care nurse Anne Grace outlined the scope of South Tipperary Hospice’s work last week to the Rotary Club of Clonmel, whose members are currently planning their annual Remembrance Tree, which is a major fundraiser for hospice.

The Tree will be in Clonmel town centre again this year and members of the public can write the names of their loved ones who are deceased, ill or far away at Christmas, on ribbons that will be attached to the tree. A donation can be made in their memory and all funds go to South Tipperary Hospice.

The tree will be launched by the Mayor, Cllr Darren Ryan, on Wednesday, December 7 at a gala Christmas food, wine and flower evening at Raheen House, for which tickets, at €20 each, are on sale at Cluain Restaurant, Nelson Street, Clonmel; and O’Sullivan Insurances, Mitchel Street, Clonmel.

A new addition to this year’s programme is Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna Cheese. Knockdrinna have a stall at Clonmel Farmers’ Market every Saturday and have made international headlines by winning the Supreme Champion title at this year’s British Cheese Awards for their Kilree cheese.

There will be food by chef Jenny Flynn, wine by The Wine Buff, flowers by Ann Fitzpatrick, lots of tastes and samples for everyone and goody bags for all going home.

Emphasising how much the Remembrance Tree means to people in Clonmel and Tipperary, giving them an opportunity to commemorate their loved ones each Christmas, home care nurse Anne Grace said: “We all know what Christmas is for somebody who has lost someone and what it is to go through the sadness of Christmas.”

She added that the generosity of people towards South Tipperary Hospice, in these recessionary times, was unbelievable. “We have been able to keep the same number of staff,” she said.

The hospice funds go towards the pay of the nurses – they have the equivalent of six full-time nurses - and the costs involved with them travelling all over the county, covering a large geographical area.

South Tipperary Hospice is the only home care team in Ireland to provide a 24-hour on-call service, available 365 days a year.

The hospice has also expanded over the years to include a palliative care consultant, part-time occupational therapist, and a bereavement counsellor; and they have a bereavement room in their offices on the Quay, Clonmel. The hospice committee includes a hospital consultant and representative of the HSE and all members are volunteers; and there are many hospice support groups all over the country, holding various fund-raising events.

Most of the hospice patients are in their own homes, with the nurses also visiting hospitals and nursing teams. “Years ago, when we were involved it meant that the patient was dying. That has changed completely. We now actually discharge patients from our books, which is good for us, and good for them and their families,” Anne said.