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P-76 Transforming a hospice counselling service to continue working through the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Seamus Nash,
  2. Rosie Dempsey and
  3. Tracey Addy
  1. The Kirkwood, Huddersfield, UK


It can be argued that facilitating patients and clients to embrace, manage and adapt to change can be considered as fundamental aspects to counselling. At the Kirkwood the counselling team have had to change how we deliver services and in turn how we work.

In the first instance the team were sent home to provide counselling services via telephone and video calls. The team had to adapt to this instantly. Firstly we sought advice and had training through our respective membership organisations in order to ensure we worked safely and ethically. We then had to contact every client known to us to brief them on immediate changes. Our bereavement support volunteers continued to carry out phone calls. The counsellors were then trained in AccuRx and Zoom to provide video calls. The team also attended various on-line forums for support and to keep abreast of new initiatives. The team developed two 8 week courses on Anxiety Management and Mindfulness for Emotional Well-Being, a newly bereaved counselling group and bereavement therapy group; all facilitated via Zoom.

Learnings Good planning and IT support are essential to help with technical issues and training on various platforms. Clients had work contact numbers of the facilitators which allowed for more personal support if needed when difficult issues arose. The virtual groups were extremely well received by isolated clients; and AccuRx also helped patients. We learned that patients, carers and post-bereavement clients required, at least, one face-to-face session. This enabled more accurate assessments of need and support. This meeting, according to feedback, was vital in enabling patients and clients to see a ‘real’ person, and thus cement trust in the therapeutic relationship.

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