Saint Francis Hospice: Visitors can still welcome

Tes Smith is director of quality and care. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Tes Smith is director of quality and care. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice - Credit: Archant

Tes Smith, director of quality and care, gives an insight into how Saint Francis Hospice worked hard to adapt so it could continue providing services during the pandemic

When the coronavirus reached the UK in January, Saint Francis Hospice faced an enormous challenge.

We had to get ahead and prepare for the possibility of the infection rate soaring, which soon became a reality.

When people think about Saint Francis Hospice, the first thing that springs to mind for many is the care on the ward. Yet, the hospice is so much bigger than that. Four out of five people the hospice cares for are in the community. These services include Hospice at Home, community clinical nurse specialists, bereavement support, and occupational, complementary, and physiotherapy.

Many of the teams are hands-on and in people’s homes. Not only do they have to manage social distancing, but also people’s fear of them bringing coronavirus into their households. Our Hospice at Home team discovered that delivering care with a smile behind a mask, and not being able to touch, is an enormous challenge.

Delivering end of life care, alongside multiple health conditions, became even more complex with the added threat of the coronavirus. One significant service change was the temporary closure of Pemberton Place: the hospice’s social hub for people living with life-limiting illnesses.

Pemberton Place is a lifeline for many. We didn’t want to cut that aid off entirely. We’ve been in regular contact with outpatients through phone calls – supporting them mentally and physically.

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Many receiving bereavement therapy became disheartened that sessions couldn’t be held in person, which created another need for care.

There isn’t one service that hasn’t had to adapt.

We have to behave as though everyone has tested positive for Covid-19. People have been accepting and understanding, which is a testament to our staff and the community.

The decision on people visiting the ward was one of the hardest Saint Francis Hospice has had to make in its 35-year history.

We simply couldn’t deprive people of visiting their loved ones in what could be their final moments. It’s a credit to everyone that visitors are still safely welcomed at Saint Francis to cherish those precious moments.

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