"We're all working towards the same cause," explains national cancer charity Macmillan's End of Life Care Programme Lead, Adrienne Betteley, when asked why she thinks it's important for charities to work together.
Earlier this year Adrienne spent a week shadowing Rowcroft Hospice's clinical teams, helping to care for patients receiving a range of hospice services and working with clinicians, patients, and their families.
Her aim was to 'dig a bit deeper' and learn more about the role of hospices and smaller charities within local communities.
Macmillan-badged healthcare workers in South Devon currently total 12, and mainly work in hospitals. They include doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, dieticians and psychologists, who offer support to patients living with and beyond cancer. The charity also provides information, support and specialist financial advice via Torbay Hospital's The Lodge, in addition to a national help line, a rehabilitation programme run in conjunction with local GPs, and resources on its website.
Meanwhile Rowcroft Hospice provides ongoing physical, psychological, spiritual and social support to people living with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses - including cancer. Services are available for patients, and their loved ones, in patients' homes across South Devon, and through Rowcroft's 17 bedded Inpatient Unit and Outpatient Centre in Torquay. Amongst others, the hospice's extensive services include specialised medical care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, complementary therapies, and bereavement support.
Gill Horne, Director of Patient Care at Rowcroft Hospice, explains, "Adrienne spent time visiting patients in their own homes with our Community Teams and Hospice at Home nurses. She also spent time in our Inpatient Unit and Chronic Oedema Clinic, something she hadn't experienced before."
"For me," Adrienne explains, "one of the most memorable moments of my week was visiting a lady with Motor Neurone Disease in her home. Her husband had become her main carer and was expected to give her injections; we were there to help him following her discharge from hospital. I could see how much Rowcroft's Physiotherapist was helping, and how much of a difference the equipment was making. It was very special to be with her family, especially as they began to relax, laugh and joke."
Adrienne spent the week with Rowcroft following a chance meeting with the hospice's CEO, Giles Charnaud, at a conference.
"We were chatting about how charities can work more effectively together," she explained, "and I mentioned that I wanted to do more clinical work. I go to meetings at hospices but no longer get much opportunity to do hands on clinical work. I want to do more for my professional development, but also want to create a better link between Macmillan and what's happening in hospices. I want to do more work encouraging better relations between bigger charities, and smaller ones.
"Macmillan already has a number of excellent partnerships with smaller charities, and I want to do more work encouraging these relationships elsewhere. By working together we can help to support more people."
In her role at Macmillan Adrienne is leading several projects, including work on advance care planning, specialist care at home and a strategy for end of life care.
"Reflecting on what you have seen helps to inform thinking on very complex end of life issues," she said, "it takes it back to what it's all about."
Following a week at Rowcroft, Adrienne cites the hospice's strong multi-disciplinary team as one of her key observations. "You have a lot of experts here," she says, "and it's not all about nursing. People think end of life care is about specialist medical care, but we can't do anything without social care teams."
While there are a number of key differences between the work of national charities such as Macmillan, and local community-based hospices such as Rowcroft, the priority of all is to continue to provide quality information, support and care to all those diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, within their locality.
"I think we've all got the same goal," says Adrienne, "we all want to stop people from suffering and ensure they have the best experience possible. There's a lot that we can learn from each other."