Local charity Treetops Hospice Care has become the first adult hospice in the country to be awarded Makaton-friendly status, enabling staff and volunteers to better communicate with patients and their families.

Treetops provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life limiting conditions, those who’ve been bereaved, and their loved ones, living in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Makaton is a unique language programme which uses signs and symbols alongside speech, to enable people with difficulties to communicate and be understood.

The award follows training for Treetops clinical staff and volunteers as well as introducing Makaton symbols to public-facing areas across the hospice. Plans are now in place to roll out further training and awareness to all staff based at the hospice in Risley as well as Hospice at Home nurses caring for patients at the end of life in their own homes during the day and at night.

An amazing achievement

Ali Jordan, senior staff nurse in the Treetops Wellbeing Space explained more:

“Being the first Makaton-friendly adult hospice in the country is an amazing achievement. Our staff and volunteers have worked hard to make this happen and I’m delighted by the response we have had from everyone across the organisation to make this a success. Everyone has embraced the use of Makaton and as our official Makaton Champion I’m really proud of us.

“Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life – from practical uses such as asking for a drink if you’re thirsty, to making friends and having fun. We know Makaton is vital for some people with communication or learning difficulties but it has also been used successfully with people who acquire a brain injury or suffer a stroke in later life.

We want to be accessible to anyone with a life limiting condition who needs our help and support

“We want to be accessible to anyone with a life limiting condition who needs our help and support and any Makaton user coming through our doors for the first time should be reassured that we will all do our best to communicate in a way that’s familiar to them.

“We want to add a special thanks to Derbyshire County Council Public Health who awarded us a grant of £1,000 to pay for the initial training and Eg (Training) Ltd for helping us with this amazing achievement.”

More than 100,000 children and adults in the UK use Makaton symbols and signs, either as their main method of communication or to support speech. Users include people with learning or communication difficulties, and their families, friends, education and health professionals.

Treetops services include Support and Information, Wellbeing Space, Hospice at Home nurses and Therapeutic Services including counselling, art therapy and complementary therapy.