St Barnabas House in West Sussex is piloting a new service called ‘Helping Hands’ aiming to provide social and practical support to hospice patients who don’t have a network of friends or family to help them while they are isolating due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to doing everything they can to ensure hospice services at St Barnabas House continue to run as smoothly as possible, staff have rallied together to volunteer their time to support the new Helping Hands initiative. From fundraising to finance, team members from across the organisation are helping deliver essential shopping, collecting prescriptions and delivering medication, as well as making friendly phone calls to keep in touch with patients and help tackle loneliness.
St Barnabas House employee, Claudia Pearce, works in the fundraising team but is now also helping deliver food shopping to patients.
Claudia says, “It’s really nice to do something positive and help vulnerable patients in this uncertain time. In my last shop, I couldn’t get loo roll, so I popped some in the bag from home as I didn’t want anyone to be without!”
In just one week, over 77 referrals have been made to support the hospice’s most isolated patients, with the service initially piloting with men and women who usually attend the Day Hospice once a week for social activities, respite care and emotional support.
Day Hospice patient, Don Pearman, aged 88, lives alone and is benefitting from weekly welfare chats. “I do miss my visits to Day Hospice” he said, “but roll on the day when I can return to St Barnabas, my second home.”
Whilst the St Barnabas Day Hospice, hospice café and retail outlets have closed following government advice, other front line hospice services continue to run as usual, with some added measures in place.
Chief executive Rosemarie Finley said: “Our priority remains with our patients and their families and we are doing everything within our power to ensure as many hospice services continue as possible.
“As well as the new Helping Hands service, outpatient appointments, therapy services, community palliative care team and Hospice at Home visits are currently still continuing, but with pre-visit calls to ensure patients aren’t experiencing any coronavirus symptoms and still wish to have a visit.
“At the hospice itself, we have opened five new beds, bringing the total number to 25. People are still able to visit their loved ones (assuming they are not experiencing any coronavirus symptoms), but we have moved to essential visiting only and ask that only two visitors come at a time.
“Thank you to everyone in the local community for their continued support. We have been extremely moved by their kind messages and offers of support during this difficult time.”
For more information visit St Barnabas House