Coronavirus meant my job at Saint Francis Hospice completely changed

Andrea Prout is the co-ordinator of Pemberton Place, the hospice’s day services and social hub for p

Andrea Prout is the co-ordinator of Pemberton Place, the hospices day services and social hub for patients. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice - Credit: Archant

Andrea Prout is the co-ordinator of Pemberton Place, Saint Francis Hospice’s day services and social hub for patients. She explains how her role has changed completely.

As a British Army veteran and retired police officer, I should really have known better than to “volunteer” but it’s not in my nature to shy away from any situation.

As I uttered the words “If there is anything you think I can do just ask,” my list of “any things” grew more and varied as the pandemic took hold.

My role as Pemberton Place co-ordinator radically changed. Our place with its ability to host groups, sessions, one to one meetings and specialist clinics changed overnight and seemed to shrink from a vibrant space to a very quiet place indeed.

My team was redeployed, all but two of our volunteers were to shield and other teams using the space have done pretty much the same, although we continue to pursue ways to stay connected to those who attended our programme of services or clinics with regular calls and sending out activity packs.

I now find myself managing logistics, ensuring my colleagues have the correct PPE to continue delivering the standards of care we strive for. Co-ordinating deliveries, organising storage and managing donations from our local and wider communities is, on some days, overwhelming and humbling in equal measure.

Ensuring everyone has what they need has given me insight to a different world. I’m probably known across much of the site but my profile has reached new heights as people now approach me with questions like, “Andrea, I don’t suppose you can you get me,?” or “Where would I get another one of these?” I can now tell you the different properties of one surgical mask over another and find that “thingamabob” easily in the store. No two days are alike and I often reach 10,000 steps before leaving work!

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Another task I was challenged with – to create video for our contribution to the media coverage of Clap for Carers. This venture went from a static film of our staff clapping, to writing and recording lyrics for the staff to sing, videoing short clips then stitching them together for Thursday nights at 8.

So, as my old quartermaster would say, “You want two new tunics? Here’s one and a handful of buttons; now, GET YOUR HAIR CUT!” - Challenge, accepted!