Many of the changes made at local charity, St. Luke’s Hospice, in response to the coronavirus pandemic over the last 11 weeks will inform the future of specialist palliative and end of life care at the Hospice in Basildon.
Eileen Marshall, CEO, said:
“Within a very short period of time, at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, St. Luke’s Hospice was severely affected. Day Hospice activities and face to face counselling were suspended, PPE requirements increased drastically, the enforcement of guidelines prevented visitation to the In-Patient Unit, our satellite offices and shops were closed and all community based fundraising events cancelled or postponed.
“At the same time, demand for our Hospice Community Services increased – with telephone calls to our 24/7 OneResponse line growing by over 10%.
“Many of our staff had to be redeployed, some were furloughed, others had to adjust to working remotely and many volunteering duties were suspended. We had to overcome myriad challenges.”
On facing the realities of lockdown, Eileen said:
“We knew very quickly our services would need to change to ensure specialist care continued for our patients, many of whom rely on St. Luke’s Hospice for weekly and often daily support.”
Eileen continues to explain in detail how the Hospice has adapted service delivery to meet the needs of their patients and their families. By making use of technology and with creative thinking, St. Luke’s Hospice has introduced new communication and treatment channels.
“In our In-Patient Unit we encourage loved ones to send letters and pictures to display in the rooms of those receiving respite or end of life care. Our nurses also help facilitate ‘virtual visits’ and contact with the use of tablets and video calling.
“Many of our Day Hospice patients were isolating, so to continue providing emotional support virtually, we implemented Zoom and Skype, enabling group and social activities and providing essential peer support.
“We produced and mailed activity packs for Day Hospice patients in order to help raise spirits and provide much needed entertainment. Packs contain jokes, games and even a tea bag, allowing patients to enjoy the social side of our service from the safety of their own homes.
“We have also transferred all counselling to the telephone for adults, children and young people. Creative engagement, including music and booked themed weekly activities are utilised and adapted to support some of the children and their parents at home between telephone sessions.”
In order to provide clinical support for patients in their own home, St. Luke’s Hospice now uses AccuRx, the NHS digital system which enables virtual and secure patient consultations.
“It’s imperative our specialist care models meet the needs of our patients. At St. Luke’s Hospice we are committed to evolving our services and embracing innovation. New portable devices and software used to support our patients in response to Covid-19 crisis have hastened our digital pathway and these changes are shaping the future of the Hospice.
“St. Luke’s is an integral part of the local health care system and our priorities are, and always will be, our patients, their carer’s and our NHS and social care partners.”