“I am proud to be a champion for palliative care” – Jenny Handley

This week we are highlighting the champions involved with hospice and palliative care. Today we catch up with Jenny Handley who has been a real champion and advocate for hospice for the past 21 years.

1. Can you give us a brief background if yourself?

I’m a brand specialist, writer and owner of Jenny Handley Performance. In addition to managing brands and performance for our clients, we publish business books and most recently, the annual JHP Gourmet Guide™. I started my career by studying food and nutrition, but got distracted by marketing and brand and for 15 years ran a PR company. I live in Cape Town with my husband Dave, and we have two adult sons. My love of words is sadly sometimes not appreciated by them!

2. How did you get involved with hospice & palliative care?

My mom lost her best friend to cancer. We were inspired by the care and compassion shown to her and her family before she died at St Luke’s Hospice. I was running the PR and marketing at Cavendish Square, and when we needed a charity to benefit from an event, I chose St Luke’s Hospice, and was then exposed to the wonderful people providing the care and running the organization. 

3. What was your perception of hospice & has it changed over time? If so, how?

Initially I thought of Hospice as a place in Kenilworth where patients with cancer and AIDS were going to die. I left Cavendish Square to start a PR company, and St Luke’s Hospice was my first client. We managed their PR for 10 years and worked on changing perceptions from Hospice being a place to a chain of care that is offered predominantly in patients’ homes.

I saw the growth of St Luke’s from one in-patient unit to the many community hospices that exist today. Now I know that Hospice is not about death and dying, but all about life and living, providing dignity and quality of life through care and compassion.

I am currently caring for my mom who has a recently diagnosed life-limiting condition. My exposure to palliative care has assisted our family in making good decisions, allowing my mom to direct her care with us loving and supporting her.

4. In your opinion what are the sort of activities one can do to show they are a true champion for hospice?

On a personal note, in addition to the brand management JHP works on for HPCA, I tell family, friends, colleagues and strangers about the work and ethos of Hospice whenever I can. By telling one person the true story, burying their misconceptions, you are championing the cause. It takes many drops of water to fill a bucket. So many of the public who have not been touched by Hospice think that it is all about sadness. When my eyes light up they start to listen!

5. Can you tell our readers something interesting about yourself?

I am passionate about many things that include food, travel, walking and reading. (When I was a little girl I wanted to be a Liberian. I am a domestic goddess in my quiet time. I love knitting, sewing, painting and cooking. I am proud to be a champion for palliative care.)