Working around a pandemic: how Phyllis Tuckwell is adapting to Covid-19

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

With the rapid escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the hospice sector is facing challenges it’s never seen before. Despite this hospices have moved fast to change their working practices. Here we take a look at how Phyllis Tuckwell in Surrey has adapted its routines.

Staff morale

The unprecedented workload the Covid-19 outbreak has created has resulted in some of the hospice’s non-clinical staff working across different departments, helping out in other non-clinical teams as and when they are needed. With many non-clinical staff now working from home, they are keeping their spirits up by emphasising their sense of being part of a team. There’s a new section on the staff intranet where people can post good news stories, videos and photos, and there are also new pages on wellbeing with Tai Chi, resilience, and mindfulness sessions.

Social distancing

Face-to-face bereavement groups have been suspended for the time being, but support continues to be provided through telephone and video calls. Visiting the IPU is restricted to one designated ‘nearest and dearest’ visitor at a time, who is allowed to visit during the specific hours of 11am-1pm and 5pm-7pm.  

To reduce the possibility of infection, flowers are no longer accepted for patients. “As we have to take more and more steps to minimise infection risks, we are conscious that we are regrettably in danger of moving away from the essence of compassionate hospice care” says Tony Carpenter, Director of Marketing & Communications. “Our staff are working very hard to keep to their personal caring approach with smiles and compassion.” 


In line with government guidance, all the hospice’s charity shops have closed and fundraising events have been cancelled. This is expected to have a significant impact on the charity’s income. Instead they’re encouraging supporters who are taking advantage of their time at home to declutter, to keep unwanted items for future donations to their shops. The hospice can also receive donations via the Amazon Smile portal for purchases made on Amazon.

Since events were paused supporters have been coming up with imaginative ways to raise money, with activities like washing their own cars and donating the money they would have spent on a professional wash to the charity. “We are always amazed at the creativity and generosity of our community” Tony says. “Although we have stopped all events and closed all our shops, people are finding all sorts of ways to support us.”

Community working

The hospice is ensuring it’s part of the Covid-19 response team in the local area, working with hospitals and community teams; their 18-bed IPU and the Care at Home team hope to ease some of the pressure on local NHS hospitals.

Additionally, the closure of the charity shops has meant they’ve had a surplus of incontinence pads they’ve been able to offer to local nursing homes, as well as a number of wheelchairs to help move residents around.

For more information visit Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care

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