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P-93 Virtual outreach services: supporting wellbeing, inclusion and reducing social isolation
  1. Kelly De Souza
  1. Willowbrook Hospice, Prescot, UK


Background During the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with public health guidance, like all other hospices, we had to close all our Outreach Services (ORS). As a quick response to this and to the changing needs, we set up a virtual service, initially intended to replace face-to-face outreach services.

Objectives Enhancing communication through virtual means suddenly became a key priority to be able to support people in their own homes, improving online access, providing ongoing psychosocial support, and reducing digital exclusion and isolation. This meant being able to extend our care beyond our hospice walls whilst patients continued to self-isolate and stay safe.

Results This choice in provision has already proven to support patients’ wellbeing, reduce isolation; increasing confidence around the use of technology, supporting, and making vital connections even up to a patient’s death. As restrictions eased, outreach strategies and re-models of working meant that we could continue to offer virtual services to patients along with in-person services; it also enables us to support patients who have become too unwell or decline to access in-person services as well as supporting patients on their discharge.

Sustainability The virtual platform is still a popular choice by patients; ORS continue to grow the digital maturity and support through digital education/awareness, digital drop-in support sessions, hybrid working, holistic support assistants and a team of digital volunteers to support our people.

These approaches enable us to continue to support and develop ‘our people’ including patients, volunteers, and staff, both pre- and post-bereavement, increasing confidence and competence. The digital provision has even extended to cover the use of virtual reality equipment which is proving to be particularly helpful in supporting patients confined to their homes. The next steps are to create a digital library of equipment to further support people in their own homes.

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