Sophia Monastirioti, Wellbeing Manager at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Surrey, tells ehospice how they’ve adapted their services to ensure they remain connected to patients.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak and the start of lockdown, my team and I have tried to adapt to a new way of working. Our aim has been to maintain the cordial relationships and the high level of support we offer to both our patients and carers. No matter how difficult and challenging the technology might have been for all of us, the response to our programme has been really positive. We have been using Zoom daily to connect with our patients on a one-to-one level but also using group activities.
Our first step was to introduce patients and carers who were not familiar with the technology, to Zoom, helping them to understand how to join and participate in a Zoom session. Although some were wary, we have been surprised by the number of people who have engaged with the concept so readily. Even a couple of our patients who have Motor Neurone Disease have managed to conquer Zoom despite their physical limitations.
Once everyone felt comfortable using the technology, we created small groups and activities which were relevant to them. We have discussion groups run by our Activities Coordinator, which are led mainly by the patients themselves and influenced by their current needs. We cover a wide range of topics; from managing anxiety and how to cope with new diagnoses, to chatting about the NHS rainbow and even discussing poetry. Every day is different.
With the help of our art volunteer, we run ‘art & tea time’ sessions that include colouring and catching up. Our complementary therapist has been taking part by providing patients with relaxation techniques and aroma sticks which have been very well-received by our patients. Aroma sticks contain essential oils and can be used for a variety of symptoms. After consulting with the patients and understanding their needs, she posts the relevant stick to them. The feedback has been very positive. Even though our patients might struggle with their illness and this new imposed reality, they have been able to join us whilst relaxing in the comfort of their own home, an achievement that we are very proud of as a team.
Recently we ran our first ‘fatigue management’ session where patients and carers had the opportunity to discuss the overwhelming tiredness that many of them feel. They were able to ask questions, share experiences and leave with some useful and relevant tips on how to manage going forwards.
We have also organised a musical afternoon, where one of our young and talented volunteers will sing for our patients and they can watch and listen remotely. It has been really rewarding being able to see so many of our patients smiling and managing technology so well. We have also shared some very emotional moments while on Zoom; the barrier of a screen doesn’t deter people from talking about their feelings. Yet it has been uplifting to see the way everyone supported each other.
The feedback from all our sessions and activities has been overwhelmingly positive and our numbers are growing. Following our first session, one of our patients said: ‘’It was really good to talk to and see fellow “Wellness” members this morning. Great idea’’. Another said, ‘’please don’t stop doing this. It’s a bright window in my week, it is so exciting that I can finally see my friends after all this time. I missed them. We need to catch up. Thank you for doing this for us’’. We are now looking for more ways to be together while we have to be apart.
For more information visit Princess Alice Hospice