Melissa Jefferies is a nurse in our community team helping to care for people in the comfort of their own homes. Here she shares how she and her fellow nurses have been continuing to support local people during the coronavirus crisis.
“I work in the community and most of our contact is now over the phone to protect our patients. This feels strange because as a nurse, it’s invaluable to sit next to someone when they’re scared; to hold their hand or to make them a comforting cup of tea. But we all have a duty to protect patients that are self-isolating for their safety.
If a patient does need a home visit by one of our community nurses then it’s discussed by the multi-disciplinary team, made up of doctors, nurses and therapists, and allocated to an appropriate nurse or medic. As I’m currently the most junior member of my team; visits are often assigned to my colleagues who are highly experienced and knowledgeable.
Our patients are vulnerable, so we’re wearing full PPE during any patient contact, to protect them and us. It’s been scary to see the issues with PPE in the media but I feel lucky to work at the hospice where our clinical leads have obtained PPE. We’ve all had training around this and there’s clear policy to guide us.
Initially when I was speaking to patients and their carers on the phone, they were scared of catching the virus and were mainly focusing on staying positive during isolation, but now, as time has gone on, I’ve noticed that concerns from our patients and carers are more around mental health and loneliness. They’re often scared to talk to us about those things as they assume our focus is on controlling the symptoms of their illness, but we have a range of services to support people who may be feeling lonely or low. We’ve implemented a new Telephone Buddy Service for people, manned by our wonderful volunteers, and we still have our emotional support services like counselling, spiritual care and welfare advice available, that we can signpost people to. Sometimes, we just encourage people to ring us when they’re having a bad day. We’re here at the end of the phone for them, and whilst we’ve changed some of our services and our usual ways of working, to meet the challenges of coronavirus, throughout the pandemic, we’ve remained here for our local community.
Last week Joan* was deteriorating at home. She was becoming more ill and her husband wasn’t coping. He asked if Joan could come into the hospice to be cared for on our wards. Our wards are the centre of our wonderful hospice and our teams worked together so Joan could be admitted the next day.
It’s important to everyone here that people can still have access to (most) of our wonderful services, even in these challenging times. And it’s been so special to see colleagues supporting each other, and our wider NHS colleagues throughout this time too.”
*Joan is not her real name