The word “pride” has so many connotations and uses. It has been used to describe a group of Lions and the confidence of socially marginalised groups in society (eg LGBT pride). Yet when I look back over the hospice response to COVID the overwhelming feeling I have is of “Pride”.
To me, this describes the feeling of deep pleasure I have derived from the achievements of my colleagues in the hospice and beyond in Health and Social Care. Whilst COVID has been a national tragedy at so many levels it has also enabled people to show true devotion, adaptability, innovation and willingness to go beyond.
So I look with Pride (and an element of surprise) at our ability to deliver so many, long-desired improvements all achieved contemporaneously, at speed and whilst staff were at risk. COVID or Non-COVID, it didn’t matter our staff just continued to give.
We increased the utilisation of the inpatient unit by 25% whilst at the same time introducing new infection control measures for staff who were working with an enemy they could not see and did not know. What they did know was that they were putting their own health and lives at risk. Weekend and out of hours admissions grew.
They supported patients distanced and isolated from friends and family whilst at the same time supporting friends and family held at arm’s length from their loved one’s in order to keep themselves safe. The staff all knew this was not the way they would want to be at the end of their lives and yet they had no choice.
They were wondering about the health of colleagues who were unwell, shielding or furloughed yet the quality of their care never wavered.
Similarly, our community teams introduced telephone and video consultations and adapted processes which meant the speed of response improved 3 fold. They introduced a change so that the first person a caller spoke to was a clinician able to give immediate advice and reassurance.
Where needed our Hospice at Home service still continued to go into patients homes, reassuring, caring or managing situations fraught with fear and uncertainty. Our doctors conducted procedures normally reserved for hospitals in people’s living rooms rather than transfer them into danger of COVID infection. The addition of a new 24/7 Medical Consultant Advice and guidance Line could not have been more timely.
Our team innovated a range of carer-empowerment videos and professional resources hosted on the website. We innovated kits to offer to carers who couldn’t access essentials for care. We designed and delivered 4 webinars for GPs, professionals and public attended by >350 people.
Staff were redeployed, furloughed; shielding volunteers were protected, whilst other volunteers continued to provide telephone bereavement counselling and other vital services. And we have a diverse workforce from many BAME communities who just kept going through it all.
And of course all the while the hospice backroom staff who raise the money, pay the wages, clean and maintain the building, support staff, source PPE etc. etc. still functioned despite the same challenges.
And finally the community of Brent and Harrow. The donations of PPE, sanitising gels, food, meals and more flooded in. I was proud and humbled to be part of your community who showed us how much you cared for us too.
And a final shout out for my colleagues in every nook and cranny of hospital, primary and community care, in every care home I saw with my own eyes, the dedication and compassion of what you were doing each and every day for week after week.
Yeah. I am truly Proud.
St Luke’s Hospice