Adapting amid the pandemic
When the coronavirus reached the UK in January, Saint Francis Hospice faced an enormous challenge.
We promptly put measures in place so that we could continue our services and provide our patients with the care they need. Our Director of Quality and Care, Tes Smith, cites our Hospice acting quickly in the first two months of the pandemic as crucial.
"We had to get ahead and prepare for the possibility of the infection rate soaring, which soon became a reality," she recalled.
When people think about our Hospice, Tes acknowledged that the first thing that springs to mind for many is the care we provide on our ward. Yet, we are so much bigger than just our Hospice site. Four out of five people we care for are in the community.
These services include Hospice at Home, Community Clinical Nurse Specialists, bereavement support, and occupational, complementary, and physiotherapy. Many of our teams are hands-on and in people's homes. Not only do they have to manage social distancing, but also people's fear of us bringing the coronavirus into their households.
"Our Hospice at Home team discovered that delivering care with a smile behind a mask, and not being able to touch, is an enormous challenge," Tes revealed.
Tes and the team faced another perplexity: they didn't know how many of our patients would be living with COVID-19.
"Delivering end of life care, alongside multiple health conditions, suddenly became even more complex with the added threat of the coronavirus," Tes admitted.
One significant service change was the temporary closure of Pemberton Place: our social hub for people living with life-limiting illnesses.
"Pemberton Place is a lifeline for many," Tes declared. "We didn't want to cut that aid off entirely. We've been in regular contact with our outpatients through phone calls — supporting them both mentally and physically."
OrangeLine is our service for those in need of friendly conversation. The team has been alert to the possibility of social distancing and the lockdown resulting in OrangeLine users feeling even more alone and isolated.
"Many receiving bereavement therapy became disheartened that sessions couldn't be held in person, which created another need for care," Tes said.
There isn't one of our services that hasn't had to adapt, and Tes thanks everyone at our Hospice for adjusting so that we can continue to deliver throughout the pandemic.
"We have to behave as though everyone has tested positive for COVID-19," Tes explained. "People have been accepting and understanding, which is a testament to our staff and the community."
Many hospitals and care homes swiftly put a stop to visitors. Tes revealed that the decision on people visiting our ward was one of the hardest we've had to make in our 36-year history.
"We simply couldn't deprive people of visiting their loved ones in what could be their final moments," she said. "It's a credit to everyone that visitors are still safely welcomed at Saint Francis Hospice to cherish those precious moments."
You can do something incredible for local people living with life-limiting illnesses by supporting our Urgent Appeal — for as little as £3 per month. You can find out how you can make a difference here.