Bethesda Hospice – A Place to Live - Documentary on Island home

Bethesda Staff (left to right) Anne Macleod; D.R. MacDonald; Carol Somerville and Catherine Gomez
Bethesda Staff (left to right) Anne Macleod; D.R. MacDonald; Carol Somerville and Catherine Gomez

For many, the idea of a hospice is a place to fear, a place where people come to die, but the first thing that strikes you when you walk through the doors of Bethesda in Stornoway, is how homely and welcoming it feels - Bethesda is very much a place to live.

Over several months, BBC ALBA follows some of the patients and the team at Bethesda to offer viewers a rare insight into hospice life through the eyes of staff, patients and volunteers.

As the only hospice in the Western Isles, it is a sanctuary for terminally ill patients and their families.

Patients often come in for respite care and pain control before heading home again for a time. Patients get used to the staff and the staff get to know the patients well, which helps with ongoing care.

From general manager Carol Somerville to fundraiser D. R. MacDonald, patients, nursing and kitchen staff to the volunteers at the hospice itself, in the Bethesda Charity Shop and the wider community, BBC ALBA discovers the dynamic partnership which lies at the heart of this organisation. 

Carol Somerville said: “The programme displays a warm, caring environment, where we are committed to looking after those in our community who require nursing or palliative care, and that care is available to all, regardless of race, creed or religion.

“Although the majority of the time we feel well supported by the community and believe this support reflects the care administered in Bethesda, the generosity and kindness we encounter can be overwhelming.

“We take time to listen, spend time with patients, residents or their families and try to help them in any way we can and this is how they show their appreciation.”

Each and every year, £230,000 has to be raised to maintain the hospice services and the programme explores how this is achieved.

Opened in 1992, as well as the four hospice beds, it now has 21 care home beds with space upstairs for an additional nine beds if further funding is secured. 

Its services are provided to all people, regardless of race, colour or creed.

This lively and moving documentary gives a rare and special insight into day to day life at Bethesda.

‘Bethesda’ has been produced for BBC ALBA by Midas Media and will be transmitted on Thursday, 19th September, at 9.00pm.