Hospice Care Adapts to Continue Supporting Patients

A local hospice charity says that only by looking after its staff can it continue providing quality care at the end of someone’s life during third lockdown restrictions.

Havens Hospices is adapting once again to create a safe environment for patients and families. Nurses and Nursing Assistants right across the organisation have been redeployed to support other aspects of care to help cover annual leave, sickness or self-isolation, creating a joint ‘Havens Hospices Care Team.’

The charity is investing in its staff wellbeing as long shifts, unfamiliar working environments and personal circumstances can take their toll. Designated spaces with therapeutic activities have been set aside for those on the frontline.

Additional staff counselling and supervision have been arranged as employees try to process the pace of change and attempt to switch off at the end of a shift. Staff are being trained in how to create memory boxes so this activity can be done in patient rooms, supporting that person in leaving a lasting legacy for their family.

Chanelle Wilson is Head of Wellbeing at Havens Hospices. She says, “Our Care Teams – and others who work on the frontline like housekeeping – have been so incredibly resilient, working throughout this newest phase of the pandemic. But it’s inevitable that they become tired too as they try to balance the demands of caring for patients with complex or incurable conditions with their own mental wellbeing.

“Our priority right now is to support our frontline staff so they feel confident and competent at the start of each shift that they can deal with whatever challenges – logistical and emotional – they may face. Whilst we are used to supporting patients at the end of their life, PPE and visiting restrictions make our usual approach harder, so we’re using methods like the memory box activity to help patients and families feel connected.”

Emotional wellbeing support continues for patients and families too, whether that’s in-person or over the phone. The team is helping Southend University Hospital patients, families and staff with bereavement support too as it deals with an increased number of deaths.

The charity has also adapted how it provides essential hospice care in light of the new restrictions.

At Fair Havens in Prittlewell, a testing facility has been created within the building’s ‘Bistro’ to regularly swab staff and visitors. This is helping to detect and isolate non-symptomatic cases of Covid, protecting patients and those working on the frontline. It is also increasing capacity within the In Patient Unit to support hospitals across mid and south Essex discharge patients who need specialist palliative care.

Little Havens once again has suspended care within the actual hospice as vulnerable families are instructed to stay home and shield. However, the charity has been able to continue with – and increase – the level of care provided within the homes of children and young people who are supported by Little Havens and The J’s.

Between October-December 2020, the Children and Young People’s Hospice at Home Team provided 338 respite sessions – approximately 1423 hours of care – in the homes of children and young people usually supported by Little Havens and The J’s. Around 28 of these were virtual sessions over Zoom. For children who need care at the end of their life, there is a phone line families can contact 24/7 and an on-call specialist Nurse to coordinate this.

This free care can only continue thanks to donations made by kind supporters. With all public fundraising events postponed or cancelled, the charity is relying on gifts – whatever the amount – to keep caring.

Visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/donate or the charity’s social media channels @HavensHospices for ideas on how to support the charity.

To keep up to date with the latest visiting guidance at Havens Hospices, please visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/coronavirus

For urgent care enquiries, please call 01702 220350.


Published 25th January 2021

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Nursing Assistants Ausilia Perna And Johann Tighe In The Sanctuary At Fair Havens