One of the first things to strike me during a recent visit to The Nook was how everybody was working in a completely different way, but with huge confidence and as though they’d always been doing it.
I guess our care team are so used to going above and beyond, by doing whatever they need to do to meet the individual needs of each member of the hundreds of families we support, that adaptability and flexibility are almost second nature.
Nonetheless, in a time of such change, with the uncertainty and challenges this has brought, particularly financially in the children’s hospice sector, it was incredibly motivating to see everyone just getting on with their tasks in hand.Tracy Rennie, Acting EACH Chief Executive
At the beginning of lockdown, we had to suspend our planned face-to-face care and support to help families shield their vulnerable children, while of course continuing to provide end-of-life care and bereavement support, and responding to urgent requests for care and support as safely as we could.
It makes me very proud to say we are now, after only three months or so, offering all our services using different virtual methods, aside from planned and routine short break care and hydrotherapy.
The services being provided range from a simple checking-in phone or video call and an online band practice as part of our music therapy, to the distribution of adapted session plans from our physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
Thankfully our service has been very quiet from a COVID-19 perspective and it’s easy to think it means our service is quiet. It isn’t. I see staff on the phone constantly to other professionals as they make arrangements to provide end of life care at home, arrange for a transfer to the hospice or hold discussions to ensure everything will be in place to support a family going home with their child for the first time. While all this is happening, another member of staff can be being fit-tested for the special type of PPE masks they need to wear to provide safe care to one of the children.
Our commitment to support families has always been very strong and it has not wavered through this period. In fact, if anything, it has got stronger. Staff are keeping in touch more frequently to enable a quick response if families are at a point of struggling to cope, or maybe they need some ideas to help with their other children around activities or things they can do as a family to help promote their wellbeing.
We know families have started to feel the strain of having to care for their child 24-hours-a-day in isolation. The worries and concerns everyone has had to grapple with over the last few months are the sort of worries and concerns the families we support have always had to go through every day.
This is an all-important Children’s Hospice Week. It will help shine a light on how children’s hospices have adapted and why we need continued public support, and all whilst we continue providing families with a vital lifeline at an unimaginably difficult time.