Extra demand for Hospiscare amid COVID-19 crisis as charity adapts during pandemic to safeguard patients and staff

Hospiscare healthcare staff have pulled out all the stops to adapt their ways of working during the coronavirus crisis.

The charity, covering Exeter, Mid and East Devon, says it has seen an ‘increasing demand’ for its services because of COVID-19, but has modified its help to make sure its specialist care can continue for patients with terminal illnesses, and their families.

While the pandemic has forced the charity to shut Hospiscare’s nurse-led clinics and day hospice services, the 12-bed ward at the Exeter hospice remains open.

Hospiscare’s specialist nurses and doctors continue to care for patients on the ward and in their homes.

Staff have turned to secure video calling software to consult with patients and carers. This means Hospiscare’s doctors and nurses can assess patients thoroughly and provide the best possible care for each individual.

Andrew Randall, Hospiscare chief executive officer, said: “Every day I am impressed and inspired by the response of our staff and supporters to this crisis and the team’s dedication to continuing to provide expert care for terminally ill patients across the heart of Devon in these difficult conditions.”

Ann Rhys, deputy director of nursing at the charity, said: “Hospiscare’s clinical team has shown great courage in stepping up to deliver our mission and to alleviate pressure on local NHS services when and where we can.

“Despite significant pressure, we are working together, twenty-four-seven to care for those vulnerable patients across our community.”

Changes include setting up a clinical co-ordination centre at the charity’s Exeter hospice, to take calls from patients, carers and healthcare professionals – plus give support, advice, and direct the caller to the service they need.

The charity said it has stringent policies and safety measures in place to protect patients and staff at its Exeter ward and in the community, so specialist nurses can treat terminally ill patients at home, helping to free-up hospital beds.

And specific COVID-19 resources have been created, advising patients, carers and healthcare professionals of the latest protocols for end-of-life care and signposting to support services that have been established for vulnerable groups.

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected Hospiscare’s fundraising efforts with all 20 of its charity shops forced to close, plus fundraising and public events cancelled.

As a result, Hospiscare has predicted a loss of more than £1million every three months until the charity can return to normal levels of activity.

The full impact of the pandemic on Hospiscare’s fundraising remains unknown.

The charity said the pledge of financial support for hospices from the Government will provide some funding support until June.

A spokeswoman for Hospiscare said: “Despite this, Hospiscare will be heavily affected for the rest of the year.

“The charity needs the support of the community now more than ever to ensure its survival so that it can continue providing vital, specialist care to people living with a terminal illness in the heart of Devon.

“If you are in a position to donate, you can support the charity by taking part in their weekly prize draw or through a monthly gift or one-off donation.”

Find out how you can help the charity with a donation here 


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