OrangeLine volunteers are making more support calls than ever
The COVID19 pandemic changed our world in many ways. Having worked at Saint Francis Hospice for 5 years, I realised I would now be working from home. I didn't foresee that sadly in November I would still be here at home.
My role as Service Development Manager involves me working alongside the services who collectively care for people who need palliative care and with those who support their families across Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Brentwood and parts of West Essex.
Another strand to my role involves communication with external partners, both in the voluntary and public sectors. This became vital in sourcing information during the pandemic - how would our families register a death now? How could families hold a memorable and meaningful funeral? Who could provide food parcels and deliver prescriptions? These were among the many sources of information I was able to gather and share with my colleagues.
Our helpline for lonely and isolated people also needed to be relocated. OrangeLine, now 4 years old and funded by the National Lottery, had been operating from the hospice with 3 staff members and 30 volunteers and making in excess of 150 calls each week. We had to find ways to continue remotely to ensure people could continue being supported and cared for.
I took into account that referrals would rise as more people would become isolated during the lockdown. The team immediately took on board the changes and to this day all our wonderful volunteers are at home making more support calls than ever.
I was concerned for projects in development and future projects, would they be postponed? With sheer determination we continued to grow. I focussed on plans to encourage more people, and health professionals, to consider advance care planning, encouraging people to think about where and how they want to receive care in later life.
I also became integral in plans to be inclusive and diverse in our service planning, this included understanding the differing needs of people who were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and for minority ethnic groups. More recently our strategy has increased to planning how we can encourage homeless people to seek our help when facing an end of life illness.
If you are facing loneliness or isolation contact OrangeLine, hospice's confidential telephone service, on 01708 758649.