Staff and volunteers at St Luke’s Hospice are finding new ways to ensure they can continue to support patients and their families during this difficult time – from counselling sessions via video link to delivering supplies to patients who are isolated in their own homes.
Day Hospice, the Counselling and Family Support Team and the Befriending Service are all keeping in touch with patients and supporting them as best they can.
Day Hospice, which supports around 750 patients and carers every year, is unable to run face-to-face sessions at the moment but the nurses are making regular calls to patients to continue to offer emotional support, practical advice regarding symptom or pain control and end of life planning.
Day Hospice Manager Clare Wolff said: “It is so important to all the nurses to keep in touch with our patients and continue to support them in whatever way we can. We may not be able to see our patients face-to-face at the moment, but we want them to know they are still very much in our thoughts.
“Sometimes it’s about being that listening ear and ensuring that the patient doesn’t feel alone or abandoned with their illness. Often we are supporting the carer as well as the patient, listening to their concerns and guiding them on how to support their ill relative. We are taking the hospice to them as much as is possible during these difficult times.”
The nurses brought smiles to the faces of their patients last week when they put together ‘St Luke’s Cares’ parcels to be delivered to their doors. The parcels were full of thoughtful gifts such as tea, coffee, books, toiletries and cake baked by the Hospice’s catering team. The parcels were then delivered to their doors by our CEO Neil Wright who was very careful to observe social distancing at all times.
The Hospice’s Family Support and Counselling Team, which is made up of staff and volunteers, are also continuing to offer vital phone and video counselling from their homes to more than 130 people.
Team Manager Chris Jackson explains: “All our clients are so grateful to have someone to talk to and connect with, especially those living on their own. We are hearing some difficult stories where clients are in their final months and can’t be with their family, in particular their children and grandchildren, which is so upsetting for them.
“There are others who are having hospital treatments postponed or cancelled, which understandably adds an extra layer of worry for families who are already going through the worst time of their lives. As a team we feel extremely privileged and thankful to be able to support families during these unprecedented times.”
Jane Taylor from Nantwich lost her husband Kevin in 2017 and is currently self-isolating due to her own health problems. She is continuing to receive weekly calls from her counsellor. Jane said: “The support from my counsellor has been amazing, I’d be lost without her. I can’t thank St Luke’s enough for what they did for Kevin and me, and how they are continuing to support me even now.”
Volunteers from the Hospice’s Befriending Service are also finding new ways to keep in touch with the people they befriend from sending cards and letters, to phone calls, texts and shopping deliveries.
Catherine Holligan who coordinates St Luke’s Befriending Service explains: “Our volunteer Befrienders are being amazing during this very difficult period. They all originally signed up so they could help the person they befriend feel less isolated and more connected to their community – this is needed more than ever right now.
“One Befriender is popping magazines through the letterbox of the lady she visits and leaving her some shopping. They also wave to each other through the window. The lady is a 100 years old and she lives alone so having the support of a befriender is really welcome. Another befriender is baking bread for the gentleman she normally visits.
“I know all the befrienders are really looking forward to the day we can actually get back to visiting, sit together drinking a cup of tea and chat face-to-face.”
St Luke’s relies on fundraising events and donations to fund 85% of patient care at the Hospice. Sadly this income is already being affected by the impact of Coronavirus. If you would like to support the vital work of the Hospice please consider supporting its Summer Appeal ‘Flowers of Hope’ by pre-ordering a daisy or making a donation towards patient care. For more information please visit www.slhospice.co.uk/daisy or call the Hospice on 01606 551246.