Lockdown at Havens Hospices – How Care Teams Are Still ‘Making Every Day Count’ for Patients and Families

Patients being cared for by a local hospice charity say they’re still receiving quality care despite the Coronavirus lockdown.

Fair Havens in Prittlewell and Little Havens in Thundersley remain open, having adapted how they operate in response to the pandemic. Fair Havens has made all 16 beds within its hospice available – despite only opening six weeks ago – to help alleviate pressure within the local NHS. Little Havens is caring for children with complex medical or social needs being discharged from hospital, and providing end of life care. Both of these measures have been made possible thanks to partnerships with CCG’s across Essex.

A patient who has experienced the charity’s hospice care during these unprecedented times is Amanda Smith. The 34 year old from Canvey was admitted to Fair Havens over Easter to help get her pain and medication for bowel cancer under control.

Mum of two Amanda says, “I was nervous when the hospice was mentioned. You hear the word, and automatically think of end of life care. I did feel scared, but as soon as I met the nurses and doctors, I felt comfortable straight away.

“They managed to get my pain under control and I felt so much better than when I came in.”

The Care Team did crafts with Amanda on Easter Sunday. “It was lovely to create something to remember this time by. My children can look at the Easter hats and think that it was a time when Mummy was getting better and stronger so she was able to come back home.”

Obviously the Coronavirus has had an impact on Amanda’s care within the hospice, as visiting has to be restricted. “My husband and children came to see me on a beautifully sunny day so they were able to sit outside my bedroom on the patio area and my bed was turned around so I could sit up and chat to them.”

Amanda was discharged on 16th April and will visit for consultation appointments. She says, “It is scary to think that I could catch the Coronavirus because I am vulnerable to infections. But I feel like Fair Havens is a safe and clean place. Everyone is taking such care with hygiene. If I hadn’t come to Fair Havens, I would have ended up in hospital where there is a higher possibility of catching an infection or virus.”

With demand on the charity increasing at a time when income is falling, Amanda knows first-hand what a difference every donation is making right now.

“Thank you to all the people supporting Havens Hospices right now. The hospice has helped with my pain and quality of life. They need to stay open to help more people like me. I’m already planning with my friends how we can raise money for the charity now I’m back home.”

Over at Little Havens, Theo Slater was the first child discharged from hospital to recover at Little Havens. The 11 year old had an emergency operation to remove his large bowel after developing an infection, septic shock and blood clots on his liver.

Mum Verity, from Langdon Hills, says, “I had no idea what to expect and felt so anxious. But then we arrived at Little Havens and I felt instantly ‘at home.’ Everyone we met was kind, friendly and reassuring. I quickly felt calm in what had become the biggest storm we have had to face as a family.

“Our lives had already turned upside down with Theo’s illness and we were suddenly faced with the whole world changing as well. We found out the hospice was opening its beds to help the NHS during this time. I was amazed and feel so fortunate that we were the first there.”

The Little Havens Care Team taught Verity how to care for Theo’s new routine including medication and feeding. “They all showed so much patience, reassurance and the nurses gave so much of their time to ensure I could learn everything and leave feeling confident to care for Theo.

“The world outside seemed crazy but inside Little Havens, we existed in a happy little bubble. Every single person we met along the way became a huge part of our journey.

“It was the perfect place to stay between hospital and home. It had always been a worry to me that home would be hard to adjust but it turned out to be the opposite and that’s all thanks to the staff at Little Havens.”

Whilst both hospices suspended face to face supportive care in line with isolation and social distancing guidelines, the charity’s Fair Havens Hospice at Home Team continues to provide care within patient homes and is at full capacity. This is to try and ensure patients can stay in their chosen place of care and avoid unwanted admissions to hospital.

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 developments at Havens Hospices, please visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/coronavirus

For urgent care enquiries, please call 01702 220350

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Theo with his mother