The number of people cared for at a local hospice increased by 80% during the pandemic compared to the previous year.
Fair Havens moved to its new £17.2 million, purpose-built facility in Prittlewell in March 2020, and cared for its first patient just weeks before the Covid lockdown measures.
The hospice continued providing its free specialist palliative and supportive care throughout the pandemic, and data now shows a significant rise in the number of patients accessing in-patient care between April 20-March 21.
This has partly been attributed to more accessible bedrooms within the new building, as they are all at ground level with en-suite and private patio area. Relationships with healthcare partners have also been strengthened, meaning a reduction in time from the point of referral to admission. These relationships also help to admit patients at the right time, and put the right plans in place to discharge patients once their condition has stabilised.
Covid may also have played a part in this increase. Whilst Fair Havens did need to restrict the numbers of visitors to help protect patients and nursing staff, PPE and a testing programme meant family and friends could still see loved ones during their stay and at the end of their life.
Ellie Miller is Director of Care and Executive Nurse at Havens Hospices. She says, “These figures are testament to our Care Teams and healthcare partners who recognised that specialist palliative nursing and medical care needed to continue throughout the pandemic.
“Covid has shown us the importance of planned, high quality care at the end of a loved one’s life. That is so important not only for the patient’s dignity, but their family’s grief too.
“Havens Hospices has a crucial role in this – to reach people earlier in their diagnosis, give them the support they need along the way and help give them choice in how they’re cared for, and where they die.”
Fair Havens has also been caring for patients with multiple, complex conditions who usually need to stay longer to address underlying issues. This type of care means trialling different medication regimes, liaising with other consultants involved in a patient’s care and putting the right discharge plan in place so the patient feels supported once they go back home.
Yvonne Healy visited Fair Havens earlier this month to relieve pain caused by bowel cancer. The 67 year old from Great Wakering says, “I feel like I’m getting back to the person I used to be. The doctors are adjusting my medication so I’m sure by the time I go home, I’ll be free from pain. I’ve got myself back into a sleep pattern which makes such a difference. The Care Team is also working on a revised care package so I can have help during the night once I go home.
“I was a bit worried about coming into Fair Havens but I was so unwell and didn’t feel safe at home, so was actually relieved when I was admitted. It took just a couple of hours to realise how wonderful the care of Fair Havens would be. I’d say to everybody not to be afraid to come into the hospice. The atmosphere here is so calm and peaceful.”
This increase in hospice care – which is free to patients and families – has only been possible because of the generosity of supporters making donations through fundraising events, charity shops, gifts in Wills or playing the charity’s weekly lottery. Havens Hospices received limited NHS funding but is grateful for the temporary additional support during Covid to ensure it could support the NHS to care for more people.
Published 13th August 2021