East Cheshire Hospice Inpatient Unit During Covid-19 - East Cheshire Hospice

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.

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