Posted by: Hospices of Hope | November 13, 2013

Expert training

At the end of October, Hospice Angelus in Chisinau, Moldova, hosted Robin Radley, a stoma therapist with more than 40 years of experience in the field.

Robin Radley and Elena Dolinschi with donated stoma materials

Seconded by Ostomy Lifestyle, UK, Robin worked with the stoma team for a week, carrying out consultations with the stoma patients, capacity building the new stoma team and facilitating links. Robin and Angelus Director Dr Valerian Isac met the medical team at the Oncological Hospital and Republican Hospital to discuss further collaboration in aid of stoma patients towards a stoma conference in 2014.

Elena writes:

“One of Hospice Angelus’ patients is Stepanenco I. from Chisinau. Stepan is 72. In September 2013 he was diagnosed with cancer of the recto sigmoidal area. The surgeons decided that he needed to have a stoma, and so he will need stoma bags for the rest of his life.

“Before he came to us he was using plastic bags. He had to band aid around the bag so it would hold on to his body. His wife did all this for him because it was hard for him to do. He could not leave the house because of the fear that this plastic bag would burst and for him it could be a big embarrassment. Before the diagnosis he was a very outgoing person. His hobby was fishing. Due to his stoma he stopped fishing, stopped going out of the house, and stopped seeing friends.

“Stepan came to us on 22 October, while Robin was here. I examined his stoma, took away the plastic bag and all the things he had attached around it. I put a stoma bag on for him and explained all the procedure so he can do it himself without even his wife’s help. He loved the bag and loved the difference the stoma bag made for him and how easy it is to change it.”

Posted by: Hospices of Hope | October 24, 2013

Hospice in the Weald

Hospice in the Weald is ‘the leading specialist palliative care provider for the communities of West Kent and northern East Sussex’. As with other hospices in the UK, Hospice in the Weald is not part of the National Health Service (NHS), but a local charity for people with ‘progressive life limiting illnesses, their carers and families’.

Hospices of Hope, based a little further north in Kent, is often confused with Hospice in the Weald, although one serves SE Europe, and the other, Kent.

Once, when speaking at a Hospices of Hope event in Tonbridge, Kent, I was amazed to be presented with a huge wood and glass collecting box full of money. The man offering it could hardly lift it. But he had arrived early, and wanted to make a public presentation. Then I noticed that on the top it said ‘Hospice in the Weald’. Ruefully I said that I was the wrong person to give it to, but that Hospice in the Weald would make good use of it supporting patients in our area. And they do.

Recently, Hospice in the Weald have made some even more weighty donations to Hospices of Hope.  First the hospice generously donated 8 electronically operated hospital beds to our partner Hospice Casa Sperantei in Bucharest. These will be used in the new Bucharest Hospice.

8 electronically adjustable beds donated by Hospice in the Weald

Then Hospice in the Weald also donated an ultrasound machine to Hospice Casa Sperantei. Like the beds, this was wrapped up securely by the excellent facilities management staff at Hospice in the Weald, and shipped directly to Bucharest through Hospices of Hope.

Ultrasound machine donated by Hospice in the Weald

As construction of the new Bucharest Hospice nears completion, equipping of the building begins towards opening mid-summer 2014. The hospice will provide 13 adult in-patient beds and 7 paediatric beds. It will house a day centre, out-patient clinics, home-care services and a teaching centre.

Hospice Casa Sperantei’s new Plumbuita Hospice, Bucharest

60,000 Romanians die of cancer every year, 5,000 of them in Bucharest. The majority of these suffer severe pain in their last months as less than 6% of Romanians who need palliative care receive it, compared with 85% of the UK population who receive ‘good’ care.

While the World Health Organisation recommends 230 specialist palliative care beds for Bucharest, there are currently fewer than 10.  We are grateful to Hospice in the Weald for helping us address this painful reality with practical and specialist equipment.

Posted by: Hospices of Hope | October 18, 2013

Primrose Foundation

Today we have received a fantastic donation of breast prostheses and forms from the Primrose Breast Care unit in Plymouth.

Our volunteers, Andrew, Steve and Colin will sort and list the numerous boxes and allocate the prostheses to our partner hospices in Moldova and Romania. The majority will be shipped out in November.

Thank you Kelly, Vanessa and all the team!

Here are just some of the team there, representing radiology, nursing, quality management and surgery:

Did you know that

  • Breast cancer affects approximately one in eight women over a lifetime?
  • Most women have at least one female relative with breast cancer?
  • Men can get breast cancer too. About 1% of breast cancers occur in males?

The Primrose Breast Care Centre is based at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, serving east Cornwall, west and south Devon, as well as the city of Plymouth.

The original Primrose Appeal helped to fund the development of the centre as a ‘one-stop clinic’.  In this state-of-the art centre, Breast Surgeons, Breast Radiologists, Breast Care Nurses and Radiographers all work together to provide a high-quality and efficient service.

Posted by: Hospices of Hope | September 30, 2013

Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Kent and Canterbury Hospital brings together a quarterly donation of medical supplies for our patients in Romania and Moldova. These include stoma bags and breast prostheses.

Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Kent and Canterbury Hospital

The organiser behind this great effort is Lindsey Brenchley.

Lindsey Brenchley with one of the donated prostheses

Lindsey Brenchley with one of the donated prostheses

Just last year Lindsey won the East Kent Hospitals Customer Service Award for organising and co-ordinating the Look Good Feel Better workshops for women having treatment for cancer.

As the citation reads: The workshops give skin care and make up tips and are a great boost to women’s self confidence at this time of their lives. “This is really important for women, particularly those who lose their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes through chemotherapy,” explained Wendy Hills. “Lindsey does all of this in her own time.”

Posted by: Hospices of Hope | September 26, 2013

Eloise Lingerie

Eloise Lingerie have generously donated more than 80 breast prostheses for our patients in Moldova and Romania.

Mastectomy Lingerie Frequently Asked Questions

These prostheses will be highly valued by women who have suffered from breast cancer, and are not able to access prostheses in any other way. Hospice Angelus in Chisinau, Moldova, and Hospice Casa Sperantei in Brasov and Bucharest Romania, provide the prostheses free to women in their vicinity, following consultation.

Eloise’s donation means that we have now sent 298 prostheses to patients in Moldova, and 251 to patients in Moldova, or 549 in all so far this year.

Breast Cancer Care UK  kindly put Eloise Lingerie in touch with us. Eloise has been providing women who have had various forms of breast surgery, including full or partial mastectomies or lumpectomies with lingerie and swimwear since 1994.  The company was being incorporated with one of their suppliers and could pass on some of their excess stock.

Hospices of Hope is grateful to Eloise, and to the many individual, hospital, charity and company donors who send us the new prostheses or recycled prostheses in excellent condition.

Posted by: Hospices of Hope | June 6, 2013

Partnership with Ostomy Aid

For more than a quarter of the population of Moldova in Eastern Europe buying a £3 stoma bag would be an unrealisable luxury. Yet if they have had an operation to remove part of their digestive system, they need one sterile bag a day.

Hospices of Hope’s Moldova Country Manager, John McKellar writes:

ʺUnfortunately in Moldova patients do not get bags supplied to them, and if they cannot afford to buy them they resort to using plastic bags, which is very unhygienic and distressing for them.”

So we team up with the young charity Ostomy Lifestyle, Based at 4 The Courtyard, Eastern Road, Bracknell, RG12 2XB, Tel: 0118 324 0069, they happily receive donations of stoma materials. Our partner hospices puts specific requests for stoma materials to them, which we then ship out. Last year their Ostomy Aid project provided a staggering volume of materials to the team at Hospice Angelus (pictured here). New, these materials would be worth over £317,000.

Hospice Angelus team greeting Ostomy Aid

The team at Hospice Angelus showing their appreciation for Ostomy Aid’s support

In total we shipped stoma materials originally worth £500,000 to hospices in Moldova and Romania in 2012, whether colostomy, urostomy or ileostomy supplies. The materials are then supplied to patients free at point of need.

Discussing stoma materials with Dr Olga Svetco

Discussing stoma materials with Dr Olga Svetco

Almost all of our 1,225 patients in Moldova depend on receiving these supplies sent from the UK. Currently Hospice Angelus needs 31,050 bags a month, which is 372,600 bags a year just for existing patients. As John says, the shortfall in supplies from the UK means that patients are either ʺforced to make use of their own makeshift bags to cope with their ailment, or they end up using stoma bags for days at a time, which increases the risk of infection and is extremely unhygienic.ʺ

Shipping 5,000 bags plus accessories costs approximately £335. We therefore always make a double appeal:

  1. Can you donate surplus stoma materials? Please send all stoma material donations to Ostomy Lifestyle, T: 0118 324 0069
  2. Can you help support the shipment of these stoma materials to patients? You can donate online at or by post to Hospices of Hope, 11 High Street, Otford, Kent, TN13 1PD. T: 01959 525110.


Posted by: Hospices of Hope | June 5, 2013

Good News

Freia, a stoma patient, with Dr Svetco, Summer 2012

Freia, a stoma patient, with Dr Svetco

Thanks to donations from across the UK, and help in all weathers from volunteers, we were able to ship donated  supplies with an original value of more than £683,000 to Moldova and Romania in 2012.

The bulk of these were colostomy, urostomy and ileostomy supplies passed on to us by individuals, support groups, hospitals and charities. As new these were worth over £500,000.

This is ten times what we sent in 2010. It is desperate that most of our stoma patients would receive no support at all without supplies sent from the UK.

The family of one of our Moldovan patients, Dumitru Popa, travels 100km from Ungheni to Chisinau and 100km back every month to collect his supplies. He wrote,

“Dear Hospice Angelus, I wanted to send a sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me by providing bags for my intestinal stoma. Because of the low pension that I receive, I cannot afford to buy these myself. Thank you that you exist and that you help people like me.

Many patients can’t travel to the hospice, so friends and family are regular callers to pick up supplies. In Moldova, our partner Hospice Angelus has 1,325 patients registered for free stoma bags. In Romania, our partner Hospice Casa Sperantei (Home of Hope) has about 300 stoma therapy consultations a year.

“Before patients heard about us,” Hospice Angelus doctor Andrei says, “they used household accessories for their stoma bags including unsterile plastic bags and bottles. Even finding places to buy stoma bags is impossible and very expensive for patients. We are so grateful to our supporters in the UK for sending these much needed accessories to Moldova.”

John McKellar, our Moldova Country Manager, writes,

ʺUnfortunately in Moldova patients do not get bags supplied to them, and if they cannot afford to buy them they resort to using plastic bags, which is very unhygienic and distressing for them. Once they have been discharged from hospital they do not get any follow up specialist support, and this also leads to serious problems. Many of these patients go on to need hospice/palliative care which is offered by the Hospice Angelus home care teams.”

As John says, the shortfall in supplies from the UK means that patients are either

ʺforced to make use of their own makeshift bags to cope with their ailment, or they end up using stoma bags for days at a time, which increases the risk of infection and is extremely unhygienic.ʺ

When patients have been operated on and are told that they will need to use stoma bags, they panic as they are told that they must pay for them. However they are increasingly referred to Hospice Angelus where they are provided with free bags and free instruction.

Advice on stoma bags from Dr Svetco

Advice on stoma bags from Dr Svetco

Pavel from Chisinau tells us,

“If I have a problem with my stoma bags or if I need some advice I can come to Hospice Angelus and talk to the doctors who know how to help me. Before I came to Hospice Angelus, I was told by the doctor at the Oncology Institute that I would have to go to Russia to get the proper bags. I couldn’t do this. My family doctor told me about the work that Hospice Angelus do and so I came and asked for help. They said yes. I was so happy. Before, I used plastic bags from supermarkets as stoma bags. It was very upsetting.”

Maria from Grigoriopol is pleased with the service she receives.

“I call a week before I need a new supply of stoma bags and then a week later my husband comes to Chisinau and collects them. I also get accessories to clean the bags and extra glue pads for additional support.”

Serghei from Ialoveni tells us that

“I don’t have enough money to buy food and therefore there is no possibility that I could afford to buy stoma bags. Before I heard of Hospice Angelus, I had to buy bags and make them last for days. This was so unhygienic but also left me with no money. But now I have help from the hospice and my quality of life is so much better. I can walk around my village and spend time with my friends. Before I could not do this.”

Moldova is easily the poorest country in Europe. 26% of Moldovans live in absolute poverty on less than £1.60 a day, which the UN considers

“a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.”

2% of Moldovans live in extreme poverty with an income of 80p a day or less. For more than a quarter of the population, buying one £3.00 stoma bag would be an unrealisable luxury. One a day would be impossible. Not surprisingly, bags are traded on the black market and rarely reach the people who need them most. Hospice Angelus tries to ensure that the right people receive the materials they need.

Hospice social worker Tatiana comments,

“Some of our patients who receive stoma bags also become volunteers. Because of the amount of bags that we receive each month from organisations such as Ostomy Aid, it is very difficult to find the resources within our staff to put together the packages for each patient. Our more able volunteers come in on a weekly basis to help us put the packs together. There is a real sense of community.”

Dr Olga Svetco is Hospice Angelus’s medic responsible for distributing the stoma bags. She tells us,

“Stoma support helps our patients live a normal life. It enables people to feel more active and live more socially. Our patients’ families also feel more at ease as they can relax knowing that their family member is comfortable. The Hospice Angelus office is a safe environment where patients are treated as individuals and with care. They can ask anything and we treat them with respect. They also meet other patients in the same situation and can see that they are not alone.”

496 breast prostheses were also donated to Hospices of Hope in 2012. 336 were sent to Moldova. 160 were sent to Hospice Casa Sperantei in Romania where 1299 breast care and lymphoedema consultations took place in Brasov and Bucharest.


Back in the UK, Hospices of Hope relies on three volunteers, Andrew, Steve and Colin, and an existing logistics system for 19 charity shops to process all the donations arriving. Our Distribution Centre Manager, Jo (pictured), somehow copes with the squeeze. Our administrator, Barbara, keeps in touch with the huge variety of donors.

We are grateful to Tidings Magazine, Ostomy Aid (pictured), nurses, support groups, patients and family members who have helped already.

Lynn Love, CEO Ostomy Lifestyle, July 2012

Word has got around.

We know our patients are very grateful for every bit of material and compassionate support.  Keep it coming!