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The last few months have been challenging for everyone, but throughout these times, the team at St Barnabas House have been working hard to ensure the continued wellbeing of everyone they care for.
Services have been adapted, new beds added, and the nursing team have been caring for more people than ever before. And all of this at a time when our fundraising income has fallen dramatically. Now, as Christmas approaches, our hospice team are seeing a surge in the number of patients with cancer and other conditions who have a late diagnosis and reduced treatment options due to COVID-19 – another impact of the pandemic.
Describing what nursing during 2020 has been like, Sam Bennett, Head of In-patient Services at St Barnabas House says: “This has been a really tough year for everyone – we’ve all been touched in some way by the pandemic, and we’re all still navigating our way through it. There have been some huge challenges, but our nurses have been working flat out to ensure the people we care for continue to feel safe, well looked after and able to stay in touch with their families, even though visits have been restricted.
“We’ve held people’s hands, laughed with them and cried with them through these unprecedented times, and I’m immensely proud of how well the team have coped. Now though, we face another huge challenge. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a surge in the number of patients with cancer and other pre-existing conditions who have missed diagnosis and treatment due to COVID-19. For some, this could be their last Christmas, and we want to make it the loveliest we can for them and their families.”
Speaking about how other services have been affected during the pandemic, Ellie Hayter, Interim Director of Adult Services at St Barnabas House said: “Throughout the crisis, our Community and Hospice at Home teams have seen their caseloads increase by 50% as we have cared for more patients in their own homes.
“Not only have we been providing end of life care for more people at home, but COVID-19 has meant that the length of time we’re caring for them has been much shorter. This means we have a much shorter time to get to know patients and families in the same way we usually would as we may only have two or three days together. But our focus remains the same – it is so important to us that people have a choice when it comes to their end of life care and where they want to be. This has been even more crucial during the pandemic with visiting restrictions in place in inpatient settings. Helping people to stay at home to be with loved ones has been a huge part of our journey of caring during COVID-19.”
At the same time as demand for care services increased during 2020, St Barnabas House’s fundraising income dropped significantly due to the closure of charity shops and cancellation of events. The support received from the local community during this time has been a huge help, but there is still a shortfall.
“The crucial care we provide simply wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing generosity and support of our local community,” says Sam Bennett. “I see every day what a huge difference supporters make to our patients and their loved ones. Hospice care would not be possible without you.”