The Breathworks Foundation and St. Michael’s Hospice - A Successful Partnership Based on Community Values

 “An alternative to medication for managing pain, mood, and stress.”

Born out of a shared objective to serve the community, the partnership between The Breathworks Foundation and St. Michael’s Hospice has flourished since the initial vision in 2015 to create a regional mindfulness centre of excellence in Herefordshire.

“A sense of bringing more mindfulness into everyday life.”

 In 2016, Palliative Care Staff Nurse and newly accredited Breathworks teacher, Gail, began delivering the Mindfulness for Stress course for staff and the Mindfulness for Health course for patients at the Hospice. Both proved popular and beneficial, but the Hospice’s tight charity budget meant the future of continued courses was uncertain. A partnership was developed whereby St. Michael’s provided the suitable venue and participants, and The Breathworks Foundation contributed funding, enabling the valuable work to continue.

“I hadn’t realised it, but I think that I had ‘fallen out’ with my heart after my diagnosis. One of the movement exercises we did in class made us hug ourselves and it felt like I was hugging myself for the first time since I was poorly.”

Four courses were run during 2017, the pilot year of the partnership, with great success. Participants reported greater levels of acceptance, compassion and confidence, improved quality of sleep, reduced levels of pain, and a helpful shift in perspective, responding rather than reacting, thereby feeling more able to manage the challenges they were facing.

“It has helped me deal with everyday stresses. My pain has reduced significantly.”

The Breathworks Foundation gave St. Michael’s the confidence to move forward and continue developing their mindfulness programme, without being limited by their own charity funding. This led to Mark being paid by St. Michael’s to train as a second Breathworks teacher and then run courses, enabling Gail to work with patients approaching end of life, in an effective combination of her mindfulness teaching and palliative care skills.

Gail now works with inpatients, outpatients, patients at home, staff and volunteers, one-to-one and in groups, teachers and carers groups. She runs mindfulness drop-ins, two 15 minute sessions a week, and a monthly drop-in, one hour long. Mark leads two courses a year. To date, over 100 participants have attended courses for just the cost of materials (currently £46 and £49), with The Breathworks Foundation funding on average £2,000 a year. Courses are offered to patients, staff and volunteers, family and friends, and the local community, with participants from a broad range of referral routes. Breathworks has also used the Hospice as a venue to host masterclasses, practice days and a national gathering of teachers.

“It has made me stop and ‘consider’ and hopefully provided me with a foundation to alter my personal behaviour management.”

Mindfulness is now an established part of the culture of St. Michael’s Hospice. The creative partnership between The Breathworks Foundation and St. Michael’s is proving hugely beneficial for all involved. Whilst the Hospice’s mindfulness programme continues to grow, The Breathworks Foundation now wishes to extend this successful model across the country, widening the community it serves.

 

Read Gail's Blog                                       Read Mark's Blog