“We were all tired, stressed, anxious and frustrated” – a doctor providing end of life care has told of the mental turmoil of working through the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Jonathan Riordan has shared his experiences of delivering palliative care at St Clare Hospice in Hastingwood on an online blog.

The 33-year-old South Woodford resident says the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic was “tiring and relentless” but he is proud of how his team rallied to provide “outstanding care".

At the peak of the pandemic Dr Riordan, who is in his first role as a palliative care consultant, worked 24 days out of 26 days.

"That was really tiring and felt relentless,” explained Jonathan. “I’d never experienced anything remotely like this in my working career before. The pandemic has definitely taken its toll at times.

“PPE has been a much bigger barrier than I thought it would be; I didn’t realise how much a smile helps to put patients at ease.

“All in all, it’s been a tough few months and a steep learning curve for my first nine months as a consultant but I’ve taken a lot of positives away from the situation as well.

“Seeing how skilful and compassionate the nurses can be in such sad and difficult circumstances was a real privilege and it made me very proud to be working here. We were all tired, stressed, anxious and frustrated - but seeing how people just got their heads down and delivered outstanding care was a real privilege to see.”

With case numbers rising again, Dr Riordan is confident the hospice will cope with difficulties that lie ahead. “Throughout the pandemic, people have shown amazing acts of sacrifice and selflessness and I’m sure that will continue. It’s incredibly important to show how resilient as a community we can be, and continue to take heart in being kind to each other.

“At St Clare Hospice, we know that it’s not going to be an easy few months coming up. But one of the advantages of staying open as an Inpatient Unit is that we now have this wealth of experience going forward. So for us, the second time around, the difference is that we have things in place already, rather than creating new ways of working and guidance for staff, whilst delivering patient care.

“Our community can take heart in knowing what amazing services and support they have at St Clare and we take heart in knowing that there are some amazing people out there in the community supporting us.”

Dr Riordan has written about the impact the pandemic in a blog released as part of Hospice Care Week (October 5 – 11) – the annual campaign to raise awareness of hospice care.

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