If we were to rewind 2020 by a couple of months, I wouldn’t be able to imagine the future as it is now – changed beyond recognition by Covid-19.
Life has altered for all of us – and we are reminded daily of the heart-breaking human cost of coronavirus.
At what is already an unimaginably difficult time in their lives, the pandemic makes everything even more challenging for our patients and families.
Like our colleagues across the hospice sector, we have rapidly adapted our caring services to ensure we can continue to support patients and families while remaining within the boundaries of the government guidance.
It makes me incredibly proud to see our teams using every ounce of their creativity and expertise to develop new, often virtual, ways to care.
One of our innovations is a 24-hour, enhanced Hospice at Home service, which allows quick access to a senior clinician to help with complex symptom management at the end-of-life.
The service also teaches informal carers practical, physical care so they can cope when isolated. Other hospice professionals are also part of the team, allowing faster access to equipment and physiotherapy support.
St Richard’s is working with NHS community nurses to deliver the service, which helps shield our patients from infection as far as possible – by enabling them to stay in their homes for as long as they can.
All our clinical teams have been making excellent use of virtual technology to continue caring.
Some great examples are from our Family Support Team, which is enabling support groups to get together online – a vital tool in helping people feel connected while apart.
Elsewhere, staff on our In-patient Unit are facilitating ‘virtual visiting’ – helping patients and loved ones stay in touch using technology while our visiting restrictions are in place.
Our Living Well Team, which usually welcomes people into the hospice, is working full-steam to provide a whole range of care – from telephone consultations, to virtual physiotherapy support, creative therapy – and even horticultural therapy from afar!
And we are indebted to our incredible volunteers, who are delivering hot meals and vital resources to patients within social distancing guidelines.
As you can see – we are doing all we can to continue to be there for each and every person who needs us. Please remember, you are not alone, we are continuing to care.
Debbie Westwood, Care Director at St Richard’s Hospice