How Covid-19 has changed life at Saint Francis Hospice

Jo Noguera

Jo Noguera is a ward manager at Saint Francis Hospice, Havering-atte-Bower - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

As 2020 comes to an end and I think back to when Covid started, it seems such a long time ago.

A "new normal" of masks, gloves and aprons provided a barrier to protect us but for me, it put a barrier between us and our patients.

Adapting to not being able to hold someone’s hand without gloves or reach out and hug a grieving relative has been something that I have struggled with, along with many of my team.

We had to say goodbye to some of our fellow colleagues to keep them safe but did we really say goodbye? They left without a goodbye tea or baby shower and we entered into a virtual world of meetings and trainings on screen.

We all felt scared and anxious and I know I questioned whether I could adapt and carry on.

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But there was never a question of why I do it - the needs and the care our patients deserve and the difference a ward stay can mean, not only patients but their families and friends, is why we have to continue as a team.

I think one of the hardest challenges for me has been the impact that Covid has had on visitors coming to see their loved ones.

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We soon learnt that many other organisations stopped visiting, but what did this mean for us as a hospice?

Balancing the safety of staff, patients and relatives as well as keeping within national guidelines has been a challenge.

I’m so glad we’ve managed to continue to allow visiting with restrictions. Although, it doesn’t feel right asking people to name significant others and asking them to work out a rota to visit.

We know this is a time of life people cannot get back and although decisions are out of my hands, we are often faced with difficult situations.

Covid has brought many changes to how we celebrate Christmas this year. What hasn’t changed in our hospice bubble is the fact that our patients need and deserve our care. We still want to be able to provide that care but are faced with the anxiety of funding and needing support.

I feel very proud to be part of such a great hospice and team. Staff on the ward have continued to provide outstanding care and of course, we are incredibly grateful to our supporters for ensuring we can still be here to care for local people who need us more than ever.

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