Sam Farr is our Lead for Inpatient Services. Here she shares an update from our wards.
“Our patient cohort has changed during the pandemic. We’ve had a high amount of emergency admissions most days which isn’t the usual way we’d work. We’ve also had an increase in overnight admissions.
When people are arriving at the hospice, we’ve noticed an increase in them coming to us in a state of crisis. This means they’re symptomatic because people have tried to manage their illness at home as they’ve been scared to come to the hospice sooner because of COVID and visitor restrictions.
That means the way we’re caring for people has drastically changed. People are now, quite often, with us for a shorter period. They’re usually dying between 24 to 48 hours after being admitted, which is a much shorter time than pre COVID. This short timeframe means it’s more difficult for us to build relationships, and that’s hard for many of the team. If the team know someone isn’t dying the way they want to, and they’ve not had chance to really get to know patients and families and their individual wishes, then they don’t always feel they’re giving people the care they’d like to even though it’s no fault of their own.
The reality is that now, we can’t always deliver the care we’d like to
The lovely things that we all love doing – Sitting with someone reading, holding their hands, the Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog visiting, reflexology – none of that is happening. Our ability to hold weddings or parties isn’t possible. The ward team can’t sit in someone’s room like we used to, or interact with people’s visitors like we’d like to. That’s very, very challenging. Although we know the restrictions are necessary, and we all understand why it has to be this way, we’re all missing the more emotional parts of our roles, the part of the care that helps to make us more special.
The care we’re giving looks very different too
We’re not able to go into the onsite coffee shop to sit with a patient and do a crossword, like we would have before coronavirus, and now all the sofas have gone out of our lounge area it looks very clinical. Even touching someone’s hand doesn’t feel the same through a glove.
Despite the restrictions in place, everyone is still giving the very best care they can, and patients often don’t feel there’s a negative impact to their care. They still feel they’re getting really good care and support from us.
Despite the challenges there have been many positives too
We’ve really seen colleagues pull together. When COVID first hit, we had a lot of support from our Trading colleagues, helping us get our PPE to good levels, so we can keep everyone safe.
The process of our visitor screeners hasn’t been managed by the ward either but that support has been amazing. It’s been invaluable and allowed our patients to see their agreed visitors at such an important time. If we hadn’t had this, people’s end of life experiences would have been irreparably impacted.
Our Lymphodema colleagues have been amazing too. They transferred to work with us on the wards at the start of COVID and picked everything up amazingly with support from the team and our Practice Educator. It was really great that this support meant they achieved all their competencies.
There’s been a lot of concern for colleagues’ own families
In the early days, people were concerned about their own families because COVID has affected every aspect of all our lives in different ways.
Even well intended things like the Thursday clap, sometimes affected me more negatively. There were times it made me feel quite uncomfortable. I’d go out on my doorstep some weeks to clap my colleagues, but in the end, I clapped in my garden, because I didn’t want my neighbours’ praise. I think a lot of us here can be dismissive of the praise we’re given but being seen as a ‘hero’ or ‘angel’ can bring its own challenges.
I am so proud of so many things over the past few months
I’m proud of how the entire team have dealt with new processes, new ways of delivering care, and new ways of working in a changed ward environment.
I’m also so proud of the way the team have pulled together. I have a number of nurses who will drop and change shifts at very short notice. One nurse even sent her daughter to live elsewhere so she could help out on the wards when needed – She didn’t see her daughter for weeks. Another nurse offered to move in. Their dedication to caring for people, even in the midst of this new virus, is unfaltering. I couldn’t be prouder of every single team member.”
If you’d like to support Sam and her team to continue delivering this vital care, you can help St Catherine’s make local people’s last Christmas the best it can possibly be by making a donation here.