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Hospice adapts to better cope with impact of pandemic

Yvonne Lush, Head of Clinical and Patient Services

Changes to the way Nightingale House Hospice delivers its’ services to better cope with the impact from the coronavirus pandemic are having a positive effect on patient care.

The changes were necessary to avoid additional pressure on the NHS and to enable patients to access hospice services earlier and quicker.

The introduction of a direct referrals service for people with palliative care needs and conditions such as cancer, Motor Neurone Disease and heart failure, who require assessment or treatment by the hospice’s multidisciplinary team, was brought in at the start of lockdown to reach more people who may need the hospice’s service and who live within its’ catchment area of Flintshire, South Denbighshire, Wrexham and the border areas. The initial feedback has been so positive that the service will continue long term.

Yvonne Lush, Head of Clinical and Patient Services said: “We were due to celebrate 25 years of hospice care this year with special fundraising events to mark this important milestone. Although these were put on hold we have continued to support patients and their families living with a life limiting illness.  I am immensely proud that through all of this we are still looking and planning new services, which I know will help us reach and support more people in our communities”.

In-patient services have continued, and the hospice continues to accept patients that need support, assessment and treatment alongside symptom control and pain management, as well as for those that need end of life care.

Gareth Valentine Jnr of Rhosllanerchrugog said his late father, Gareth Valentine Snr, age 60 had been experiencing difficulties at home due to his life-limiting illness, so he rang the advice line.

Gareth said: “I spoke to the nurse in charge and they gave me help and guidance over the telephone and reassured me. After chatting through the options it was decided that dad should be admitted to Nightingale House and the wheels were put in motion immediately. The staff have been incredibly helpful, ensuring that my father’s needs came first. I just want to say a massive thank you to them all for everything they did during exceptional times.”

Cath Evans is the Admissions and Discharge Facilitator at Nightingale House Hospice and said; “It was becoming difficult for patients and their families to access care quickly due to the restrictions placed on all of us working in health at the moment.

“Patients and their families don’t need a doctor’s referral to ring us as we can follow up the detailed paperwork with district nurses and GP practices after the call. We are finding that it takes the stress off patients and their families who are under tremendous strain anyway. At the hospice we pride ourselves on our nurturing approach to patient care and are really pleased that we have been able to help Gareth and his family during this difficult time.”

Some changes such as visitor restrictions and the use of face masks by all staff and visitors have become the norm but the benefit of technology and the use of iPads for virtual visiting ensures patients are staying connected with loved ones. Many Day Service, Heart Failure patients, who are still unable to travel to the hospice for weekly therapy or rehabilitation sessions, are staying connected via digital technology, online bereavement support continues thanks to the Family support team, as well as offering additional support to healthcare colleagues and to those who may have lost someone due to Covid-19.

Yvonne Lush said the hospice belonged to the community and their support was needed more than ever to ensure patient care continued.  She added: “I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us during these unprecedented times in a variety of different way; from volunteering for us, donating vital PPE,  donating food and drinks to our patients, their families and the hospice team or supporting us by taking on a challenge at home, buying meals from our food delivery service or signing up to play our weekly lottery – you’re support is truly appreciated.”

If you think you or a loved one could benefit from Nightingale’s services, get in touch with them on 01978 316800.