Little Havens patient Theo
Patients cared for by Havens Hospices in Essex have shared their experiences of care during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Both the charity’s adult hospice Fair Havens and children’s hospice Little Havens 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.
Amanda Smith is one patient who has experienced the charity’s hospice care during the lockdown. The 34-year-old was admitted to Fair Havens over Easter to help get her pain and medication for bowel cancer under control.
“I was nervous when the hospice was mentioned” the mum of two says. “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.”
On Easter Sunday, Amanda did crafts with the Care Team. “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.”
Inevitably 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. “It is scary to think that I could catch the Coronavirus because I am vulnerable to infections” she says 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.
“I want to thank 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 the children’s hospice. 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.
His mum Verity, 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 to, 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.
Read our interview with Havens Hospices’ Director of Care Ellie Miller, who told us how Covid-19 has impacted their way of working.
For more information visit Havens Hospices