Clinical Services Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

New Adult Bereavement Service

East Cheshire Hospice is offering counselling to adults who have lost loved ones during Covid-19, even if they have no previous link to the Hospice.

Anyone bereaved whose emotional and mental well-being has been affected by the pandemic qualifies.

Their GP can refer them for professional psychological support from Hospice therapists.

NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is resourcing the county-wide project with St Luke’s, Winsford, and Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Chester, also involved.

For East Cheshire it means extending services beyond families and carers of its own patients.

Adults affected by bereavement can access up to 12 sessions via Zoom or telephone.

The Hospice’s Adult Bereavement Services Manager Helen Wilkinson said: “We’re making people aware the service is there and those who’ve lost someone during Covid-19 are eligible.

“It could be someone anticipating death, a Covid-19 loss or the bereaved during this awful time.

“For instance, it might be a parent or spouse who died of another cause other than Covid-19, which you have been impacted from severely by restrictions in place during lockdown.

“Grief is a normal response and most people manage without professional intervention. However, for those who are really struggling to cope and for whom friends and family aren’t enough, then our psychological support services are available.”

Helen suspects there will be plenty seeking therapy.

She said: “There was already increased demand for our services due to Covid. In our area we’ve  recognised that more bereavement support is needed and require extra capacity.

“People are more isolated and their grief compounded by restrictions, meaning they can’t hug, meet a friend, or catch up like they did.

“Some people try to squash down their emotions, or keep busy, before realising there’s a problem and they can’t cope. We’re seeing that now and the delayed reaction means we’re likely to see it in the future as well.

“We encourage people to talk about it, be open and seek help. Everyone has different experiences and Covid and lockdown has heightened emotions. Some don’t want to bother ringing the doctor because there’s a pandemic while others feel isolated.

“Those grieving shouldn’t wear a mask metaphorically and friends, relatives and society can help by  listening and offer empathy.  Bereavement is hard anyway.  Now more than ever, people are recognising the need for support.”

Helen Wilkinson, Adult Bereavement Services Manager at East Cheshire Hospice.

Sunflower Centre Update

East Cheshire Hospice is hoping to reopen its Sunflower Centre in September.

The day care unit – the hub for the Hospice’s outpatient services –  has been closed for three months.

Clinical Director Sandra Jones said: “We’re taking it a day at a time, but we’re planning to have small groups back towards the start of September.

“Obviously, we’ll be adhering to social distancing and keeping footfall as low as possible. We need to make sure it’s safe for everyone who comes into the unit.

“There are logistics involved and many patients rely on our volunteer drivers to collect them.  We need to get the volunteers back on board and make sure they feel happy to go and bring people in.

“We also have volunteers who serve food and refreshments. That all depends on who’s willing to come in.”

The Sunflower Centre, managed by Helen Henshaw, has continued some services, including counselling, via phone and video calls. An online afternoon tea is popular.

Sunflower Centre manager Helen Henshaw in the day care unit.

Staff were redeployed to help the IPU and Hospice @Home teams and other areas, including laundry and housekeeping.

Sandra said: “We’ve been supporting patients with weekly calls to see how they are and signposting them to GPs and district nurses if necessary. Most just need a welfare catch up and someone to talk to and run things by.”

“The team have been fantastic, moving round to fill gaps and changing rotas at the drop of a hat to make sure we still provide a service.”

East Cheshire Hospice Inpatient Unit During Covid-19

The absence of families around the bedsides of dying patients has been one of the hardest parts of Covid-19 restrictions at East Cheshire Hospice.

Visitors have had to stay away from the inpatient unit for strict safety reasons unless a patient has been in the last days of life.

Then they have been allowed one visitor – two for a patient approaching the last few hours of life.

Clinical Director Sandra Jones said: “It’s been really difficult for staff not having relatives here because that’s not what we do.

“We care for the patient and the family holistically, working with families to prepare for the death of a loved one. Not being able to do that has been hard.

“We’ve used iPads and WhatsApp to allow patients to talk to relatives at home. We’ve encouraged them to send emails which we’ve printed off and read to patients and shown them pictures.

“It’s obviously not the same as seeing someone face-to-face but no patient has died alone. A member of staff has been with them if the family couldn’t be present for any reason.”

Confirmed Covid-19 cases among patients and staff have presented challenges for Hospice staff.

Sandra said: “We’ve had patients with unconfirmed and confirmed Covid and staff who’ve been unwell with the illness but we’ve just had to manage the best we can.

“A patient with Covid wouldn’t be treated differently to any other infectious patient. Obviously we have to ramp up the PPE but they’re still cared for exceptionally well to our usual high Hospice standards.

“Staff adhere to the strict infection control regime and use the required PPE. Our housekeeping team have ramped up their cleaning schedules to make sure there’s no spread of infection. We can’t eliminate it, but we’re risk-managing it.”

Thankfully, the inpatient ward, managed by Claire Barber, has had enough beds to cope.

Sandra added: “We’ve been within capacity and we know that from our area the wave hasn’t hit as hard as we were expecting because the NHS Trust hasn’t been at the capacity it thought it was going to be.

“Luckily, we’ve been well supported with PPE and had all the equipment we need. The amount of information and guidance we received on making sure our environment was safe was quite challenging.

“I’ve been a nurse for more than 40 years and have never come across anything like this before.”

Sandra Jones, Clinical Director at East Cheshire Hospice.

Hospice @Home during lockdown

Caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses in their own homes has been ‘challenging and emotional’ during Covid-19, according to a senior nurse at East Cheshire Hospice.

Tess Cleaver is manager of the charity’s Hospice @Home team which has made home visits during the pandemic.

While the country was on lockdown, her dedicated team were on the front-line of health care visiting patients as usual.

Gloves, aprons, water-resistant face masks and visors have been worn at all times by the 12 specialist nurses and highly-trained healthcare assistants.

Following rapidly changing guidance on PPE presented a challenge in itself.

The Hospice @Home team did have to suspend its services for two weeks early in May so further precautions could be put in place.

Tess said: “It’s been challenging and closing the service temporarily was difficult. We didn’t take the decision lightly, but it was made by the senior team to ensure we were operating in the safest possible way.

“That was our guiding factor and without that adjustment we’d have struggled to function as normal.

“We had great support from other health care providers and family members were amazing. They understood that we were doing everything to make sure we kept their loved ones safe.”

From left, East Cheshire Hospice @Home manager Tess Cleaver and healthcare assistants Kim Lamb and Karen Buckley.

 

Hospice @Home now covers 24 hours a day – it had operated overnight and at weekends until April.  The extension was planned before coronavirus.

Tess added: “We’ve had to make a lot of changes and be adaptable and the response from Hospice staff has been fantastic. Everyone has pulled together.

“Staff have been flexible, helping out in other Hospice roles when we shut down, and I can’t thank them enough.

“When the virus started some patients were scared. They wanted us to get in touch, but didn’t want staff visiting to reduce footfall in their homes.

“Then when they saw us and district nurses wearing the PPE that was re-assuring.

“Staff might finish visiting at 8 pm during the Clap for Carers and that was touching. It was lovely for the clinical staff on the inpatient ward to receive a visit from Macclesfield police one Thursday.

“One staff member had to move away from a relative who was in the high risk group. It’s been emotional at times and we’ve all had to make difficult decisions.”

Some staff tested positive for coronavirus and guidelines were followed immediately. Thankfully, those affected are now recovered.

East Cheshire Hospice Childhood Bereavement Service

The Dream Beams donation provides vital funding for the Childhood Bereavement Service run by East Cheshire Hospice.

During a 12-month period it supported 226 youngsters, aged between four and 18, and more than 1,000 family members.

A child who has experienced bereavement within the last three years, or is about to be bereaved, can be referred, even without a Hospice link.

Services include counselling and educational support for teachers and fellow pupils.

Dream Beams chair Katie Jordan had no hesitation supporting the service after learning about its work from April Green, the Hospice’s Key Relationships Manager.

Katie’s committee agreed to donate proceeds from their charity ball towards the service which began almost seven years ago and needed external funding to continue its development.

April said: “The Child and Adolescence Mental Health Service (CAHMS) refer all their bereavement cases directly to us and if this service didn’t exist these young people would have no support at all.

“Our mission is to be the ‘the go-to place’ for all referrals and to be considered the centre of excellence for childhood bereavement services in East Cheshire.”

Karyn Johnston, Hospice Director, said: “The monies raised from the Ball will make a lasting difference to the lives of children and young people suffering a loss of a loved one, or close relative, and give their families, carers and teachers the tools to guide them through their bereavement journey.

“On behalf of everyone at the Hospice, and those in our care, we offer our deepest gratitude.”

East Cheshire Hospice Key Relationships Manager April Green (centre) with the charity’s child therapists Jane Burton (left) and Lindsay Dobson

Meet Tess Cleaver, Hospice @Home Manager

Tess Cleaver decided she wanted to work at East Cheshire Hospice when she attended an open day there five years ago.

She was a hospital staff nurse at the time and highly recommends working for the hospice which has now created two more nursing vacancies for qualified nurses.

Tess said: “The experience I gained as a hospital staff nurse was so valuable and I wouldn’t have done what I do here without that background.

“I applied here and was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time position on the inpatient unit as a staff nurse. When I attended an open day I thought this is the place where I’d like to be.

“I’ve never looked back and it’s a unique place to place to work. Everyone who works here, whether on the inpatient unit or in the Hospice @Home team, feels privileged to be here.”

Tess, who is now the Hospice @Home Manager, added: “We focus on holistic care and time is allowed for all duties, especially those patient-facing tasks. Everyone has heard of the Hospice and has some kind of experience, whether in a professional capacity or as a volunteer.

“The Hospice is also committed to developing staff through training, education and experience and the support from managers and colleagues is something you’ll never experience anywhere else.”

Fred Slater & the Dementia Companions

Cricket coach Fred Slater is completely bowled over by the way he has been welcomed into the fold at East Cheshire Hospice.

He became a volunteer in the Sunflower Centre a year ago and enjoys the company of people with dementia and their carers.

His next role as one of the charity’s Community Champions is a similar ‘buddy’ role in someone’s home, giving their carer vital respite for a few hours each week.

Fred, from Tytherington, said: “I’ve really enjoyed helping the Hospice. It’s so inspiring and I’ve learned so much from chatting to people within a group.

“It’s about finding out what makes individuals tick. You might get someone who doesn’t want to engage particularly, but you get a jigsaw out and suddenly they spring to life and they see the picture far better than me.

“The staff there are fabulous and I’ve learned so much. They’re so professional with their patience and caring approach and are the real unsung heroes of the service.

“We get a thorough background about who we’re looking after and in some ways I just fill around the edges.”

Fred, aged 66, worked for the English Cricket Board before retiring, but still coaches at King’s School, Macclesfield, and helps juniors at Macclesfield, Bollington and Ashley cricket clubs.

He regrets not taking his late father Fred to the Hospice for the sessions. “I didn’t know about the Sunflower Centre otherwise I’d have taken him there.  He was an inspiration to me and now I’m retired this voluntary work is his legacy.

“Being matched with someone is an important small step for me on my journey and I’m looking forward to it.

“More than a dozen Community Champions visit homes but they don’t provide  nursing care. They enjoy the company of individuals while their carers may go for a walk, shop or perhaps visit a library.

“The Sunflower Centre provides wonderful support and it’s re-assuring to know that expert staff are there as a safety net.”

Fred and fellow volunteers were finalists in the Volunteer Team of the Year at the 2019 North West Charity Awards.

Hospice @Home Second Anniversary

Hospice @Home has had a ‘massive impact’ since the service was set up by East Cheshire Hospice two years ago.

A growing number of patients are accessing the charity’s specialist palliative care services in the comfort of their own home.

Figures released on the second anniversary of the service show that so far Hospice@ Home staff  have –

* Received 713 referrals.

* Made 6,815 home visits and 3,854 supportive telephone calls.

* Supported 412 people enabling them to die in their preferred place.

Tess Cleaver recently took over a new role as Hospice @Home Manager, having moved from the inpatient unit where she was a staff nurse.

She said: “Hospice @Home is about taking the excellent care we offer here in the inpatient unit and providing that in the community in people’s own homes.

“That was the vision for the service and that’s what’s being delivered. The impact has been massive.”

The service provides hands-on medical care, psychological support, symptom management, end-of- life care and care after death.

Nurses and co-ordinators work closely with other health care agencies, including GPs, district nurses, Macmillan and Marie Curie.

The service is ‘out-of-hours’ operating from 6.30 pm until 8 am and 24 hours at weekends.

Tess added: “If people can stay at home for their end-of-life care it avoids unwanted hospital admissions.

“Families try to do everything they can to look after their loved one and keep them at home but sometimes it becomes too much and they can’t help them in the way they’d like any more.

“Typically, a patient might need assistance with getting ready for bed, having a wash or going to the bathroom at 2 am. For them and their family that’s a crisis.

“That’s when our services come in to support the family. If no care were available, they may want to get them into hospital and because we’re helping we avoid those situations and that helps the NHS.”

Hospice @Home costs £2.2m for the first five years and is funded entirely by donors.

Tess said: “We wouldn’t be able to offer this service without the donors’ commitment so we’d like to thank them.

“People can’t put into words their gratitude for our service which involves collaborative working between several agencies. The need for those services will only become greater.”

Community Champion Open Day

Could you give up a couple of hours a week to help someone with dementia?

East Cheshire Hospice is inviting the public to attend an event next Monday (Oct 7) to hear what is involved.

The charity already has a dozen Community Champions who are companions for those living with dementia and more volunteers are needed.

The information meeting is at the Hospice on Millbank Drive starting at 10 am with talks from those involved followed by general discussion ending at 11 am.

The Hospice’s Admiral Nurse Debbie Callow said: “It’s a chance to come and learn more and meet some of the team and with no pressure to sign up.

“Our service helps provide companionship to a person living with mild dementia, while allowing their carer to have some time to themselves.

“The volunteer won’t provide personal care – their role is one of friendship and they’re fully supported by the Hospice.

“Our volunteers say it’s a highly rewarding role and they enjoy giving something back and making a difference.”

Debbie is the Hospice’s first specialist dementia nurse, a post created in June recognising the charity’s forward-thinking approach to the illness.

Statistics show that more than 850,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with dementia, a number expected to increase, while a quarter of over 65s in hospital beds have the illness.

Debbie said: “Education is the key, whether it’s carers or professionals, to making life easier for those with dementia so they can live well.

“Dementia doesn’t just affect the person with the diagnosis – spouses, partners and family and friends are all affected as well.

“Part of my job is raising awareness and I love the energy and environment of working here. There’s a really nice feeling which you get walking round the building.”

People can just turn up on Monday at 10 am with no need to book. For more details call Volunteer Co-ordinator Helena Smith on 01625 664984 or email hsmith@echospice.org.uk.

* Admiral Nurses were so named by the family of Joseph Levy, whose family founded Dementia UK. He had vascular dementia and was known affectionately as ‘Admiral Joe’ because of his love of sailing.