Background and Aims In March 2020 our hospice was faced with an unprecedented challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic affected every aspect of our work, from patient care to fundraising, but proactive cooperation with local services enabled us to ‘Step Up’ our support for patients and families.
Method and Results The ‘Stepping Up’ appeal found innovative ways to raise funds and engage with the public, from virtual events to gathering messages of support for our hard-working staff. Our Compassionate Communities team launched a telephone befriending service and virtual bereavement information hubs, reaching out to those isolated by the pandemic. Our inpatient unit expanded to better facilitate admissions from local hospitals and the community, overseen by a dedicated flow co-ordinator. The team was rapidly upskilled in managing more acutely unwell patients, including those with COVID-19, and challenging situations such as withdrawal of NIV.
Our Living Well Centre, temporarily closed due to the pandemic, was transformed into a nurse-led unit for COVID-19-positive patients awaiting care home placement. As well as being redeployed, our Living Well nurses embraced new technology to support their patients remotely. Our community team provided additional support to local district nursing teams, taking over personal care for some of their more complex palliative patients. Training in procedures such as catheter insertion and venepuncture was also expedited. Working collaboratively with NHS colleagues we were able to manage more complex medical situations at home, reducing the need for inpatient admissions. Video consultations and a professional support line allowed the medical team to become more responsive.
Conclusion Despite the many challenges, we have taken the opportunity to improve continuity of care and build better working relationships within our organisation. Cooperation with external partners, a keystone of good palliative care, has been vital to our ability to respond and adapt, and we hope to see these positive changes continue.
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