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Open letter from St Richard’s Hospice Chief Executive June Patel

2nd April 2020

We are living in very challenging times with the coronavirus pandemic and I wanted to reassure our community that our services are fully operational – although being delivered very differently as a result of the impact of COVID-19 –  and we are committed to caring for our patients and loved ones.

Although many activities across the country are cancelled, our care is not. 

Our In-patient Unit is open for admissions, including those with COVID-19 – and we have an incredible team looking after patients with their end of life care expertise, freeing up the NHS to provide the critical care they do so well.  Of course, we have had to adjust our ways of working to keep patients, volunteers and staff as safe as possible.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, we were very touched by the response from the loved one of a patient who was cared for this week in our In-patient Unit, reflecting on our care at this difficult time.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all the staff and volunteers at St Richard’s. They opened their arms to us. Whatever time of the day I rang, and when I visited, they patiently talked me through my worries and tears. Even when he had Covid19 the nurses, carers and doctors continued to give him love and tender care 24 hours a day.”

Although our In-patient Unit is open, our patients are the most vulnerable to severe infection with the coronavirus and need to be shielded as far as is possible. That’s why we’ve set up a rapid-response community team, working with NHS district nurses, to help people stay safe in their own homes for as long as they can.

Our Family Support Team is currently supporting almost 700 patients and family members virtually by telephone and video calls with all the extra anxieties that they are going right now. They have also created a team of volunteers and staff who will deliver food to patients who are unable to go food shopping and have no-one else to help them.

Our Living Well service is working in creative and innovative ways to reach people where ever they are and devising helpful resources that can be accessed on our website.

In short, we are working as never before to do all we can.

Our staff and volunteers 

Our teams are showing incredible courage and resilience and doing everything they can to help our patients and families. 

I am so proud and humbled by their continuous hard work, compassion, commitment and team spirit they have shown throughout these difficult times. 

Of course, they too are anxious, for themselves and their families, but they carry on, committed to looking after our patients, loved ones and each other. They’ve rapidly adapted to different ways of working and offering palliative care, and it is with great sadness that due to stringent protective measures we cannot offer the normal service we would wish. However, we will still do our utmost to make sure that each patient and loved one is given the compassion and dignity they deserve.

I understand staff are also concerned about personal protective equipment and we are keeping our stocks constantly under review. We are making sure we follow all the national guidelines, and as they change, so do we. 

Looking after our staff 

These are incredibly stressful times in a fastchanging situation. We are striving to keep staff safe at work and are offering extra support such as having hot food available, well-being activities and psychological help. The teams also offer each other great support during tough times.

Finances 

We’re already seeing a huge drop in the fundraising income that pays for the vast majority of our work. These are unprecedented times for our fundraising and shops teams, with stores temporarily closed and events postponed or cancelled to help stop the spread of the disease. 

But we have been hugely heartened by the support of our wonderful community who, when they are able to do so after looking after themselves and their loved ones,  are kindly contributing to our Resilience Fund to help us continue to care.

We are hopeful that with rigorous financial management and continued support from our wonderful community, that we will pull through this together to a brighter future.

Thank you for your understanding and on-going support of St Richard’s.

June Patel, Chief Executive. 

PS Your can donate online at www.strichards.org.uk/donate or call the Fundraising Team on 01905 958262.