Background Hospice day services include patients and carers attending traditional sessions within the hospice building. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face services closed in March 2020.
Aim To continue to support patients and carers using virtual technology during the COVID-19 pandemic and develop a network of support which was inclusive to all service users. To include bereaved carers who previously would not have accessed day services.
Method Previously planned group sessions were transferred and delivered virtually via Zoom which included educational sessions which were condition specific, symptom management, exercise sessions, relaxation and mindfulness, practicalities of coping when shielding, and fun sessions such as quizzes, dressing up for occasions etc.
All sessions were well attended.
Group diversity: patients of all ages with different conditions/diagnoses, palliative/curative were included in the same sessions.
Service users supported each other which was described by them as invaluable in such a time of adversity and gained comfort and solace within a safe, welcoming environment.
Friendships and support extended outside the group as a lot of patients and carers exchanged contact details.
Dementia patients/carers felt included and valued despite managing memory recalling challenges on occasions during the sessions.
Conclusion The mixture of curative and palliative patients, and carers (including bereaved carers) attending sessions virtually created a hospice ‘community’ which provided a richness of care, support and understanding from all who attended. The successes of the virtual community helped to shape the new Health, Wellbeing and Rehabilitation Service which included two ‘community’ sessions within the programme which would include the mixture of patients/carers as described above.
Innovation Using Zoom to deliver sessions was completely new for hospice staff. Staff, patients and carers were supported in how to access the sessions, including home visits to demonstrate how to access. This was particularly challenging with older patients/carers and those with dementia.
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