People living in West Norfolk and the Fens have greater choice on where to spend their final days after a charity launched a new hospice at-home service.

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The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House secured an increase of funding from the NHS and joined forces with Marie Curie Cancer Care and Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust to create the at-home service.

The move has been described by the Snettisham-based charity’s chief executive Richard Shaw as a “massive leap” towards providing the level of hospice care West Norfolk deserves.

Mr Shaw said: “It’s something that West Norfolk has desperately needed for a number of years.

“This really is the start of a new way of working in West Norfolk with all the organisations that support people at the end of their life working together.

“We have never had this kind of specialist leadership and ability in this area and will enable people to be supported in a co-ordinated way in their own homes.

“It’s also the first time we have lead a project like this and it will, over the next 12 to 18 months, lead to a much broader service for everybody in this area.”

Mr Shaw added the charity has recruited three clinical nurse specialists and three healthcare assistants and they will be lead by Rebecca Meyrick, head of outreach services at the charity.

Mrs Meyrick said: “There are a lot of people living in our area whose end of life needs are not currently being met and there are patients dying in hospital who really don’t want to be there.

“It’s very important people are getting the right care for them and this service will give people the choice of dying at home.”

Referrals to the service can be made by a range of health professionals, including GPs, acute hospital staff, and community-based NHS teams, as well as by care homes and other residential settings.

The launch of the at-home service comes after the charity starting a campaign to raise £750,000 to provide better palliative care for West Norfolk and North Norfolk residents.

The Seahorse Appeal, which is being back by the EDP, was launched last month as the charity gears up to move operations to a full-service hospice in Hillington, near King’s Lynn, next year which will provide 12 in-patient beds.

The charity needs the money to ensure patients can take advantage of the new hospice and other associated services straight away and so far more than £20,000 has been raised.

The Seahorse Appeal is named as such because the seahorse forms part of the Snettisham village sign and the charity wants to honour its roots and acknowledge the local support.

The charity currently supports more than 280 people every month at its current day care hospice in Snettisham and has the support of 250 volunteers as well as paid staff.

For more information about the Seahorse Appeal, including ways in which you can donate, visit www.edp24.co.uk/news/tapping-house.

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