A hospice is opening up to explain what its takes to run provide palliative care during a pandemic.

As part of this year’s Hospice Care Week, from October 5 St Clare Hospice will be opening its virtual doors to show people what goes on at the Hastingwood hospice.

Sally Muylders, community engagement manager at St Clare Hospice, said: “Being an open and welcoming Hospice sits at the heart of how we support people in our local community. However, with the risks associated with the spread of covid, we’ve had to restrict access to our Hospice in ways that we’ve never done before, in order to keep our patients, staff and volunteers safe.

“We’ve been working hard over the recent months to make sure people have access to services that meet their needs during this difficult time, which has meant doing things differently and adopting new technology to carry on supporting people. The last six months have been challenging, and we know that the road ahead will continue to be difficult, but we will continue being here to support everyone in our local community around death, dying and loss.

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She added: “This is why, as part of Hospice Care Week, we are opening our virtual doors wide to re-connect with everyone in our local community. We want to tell people about our new services and ensure that people know there are still many ways to get involved and keep supporting St Clare Hospice.”

Throughout the pandemic, the hospice has continued to deliver care for people nearing the end of their life. During this period staff have conducted almost 7,000 home visits, more than 1,500 therapy sessions, 1,178 family sessions and made more than 2,500 supportive phone calls.

In addition to this, St Clare Hospice has developed new services and reshaped existing ones to continue supporting people during, what has been for many, a difficult and isolating period.

During the lockdown period, the Hospice moved all of its Bereavement Café support into the virtual sphere, by setting up online communities via Facebook and continuing to offer people a chance to meet and share experiences via Zoom; almost 200 people are now engaging in the Facebook groups, offering and receiving bereavement support.

The Hospice’s Compassionate Neighbours programme, which brings friendship to the lives of people who are socially isolated and frail or living with a life-limiting illnesses, moved its support from face to face visits to telephone support and broadened this out to offer support to staff and residents in 40 local care homes. It delivered virtual training to attract new Compassionate Neighbours to support more isolated people; 65 people received this training and the Community members who were matched during the pandemic have now received over 800 hours of social and emotional support.

Additionally, in June 2020, with funding from the National Lottery’s Community Project, the Hospice launched a brand new Bereavement Support Helpline, offering support, a listening ear and guidance to all in the local community.

This year, when the hospice was intending to celebrate its 30th birthday, St Clare was formally recognised for its outstanding specialist care by the Care Quality Commission, which gave the hospice an overall ‘Outstanding’ rating, an uplift on the previous rating of ‘Good’. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the Hospice was unable to celebrate either of these notable accomplishments; the Open Hospice events are the first opportunity to celebrate with people in its local community.

The Open Hospice events are free, and open to everyone. However, those looking to attend will need to first register on Eventbrite. They will then be sent the details so that they can join one of the two Zoom events.

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