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This is…Margaret – supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Margaret Maye is the Outreach Nurse Lead for the Acorns Children’s Hospice in Birmingham. During the pandemic Margaret has been supporting the NHS by working with the Palliative Care Team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Margaret shares her reflections on her experience in a blog for Children’s Hospice Week.

During my second month working within the Palliative Care team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), I have continued to support both children and their families who are following a palliative pathway, and also the families who have sadly been bereaved.

My experience of moving to work within BCH could not be more positive, both on personal and developmental levels, and also for the organisation. I have been welcomed into the team; my knowledge and experience has been appreciated and utilised, whilst at the same time I have gained invaluable experience of some areas of nursing that I have not witnessed before within my career.

Organisationally having a second Acorns nurse within BCH has helped to ”spread the word” further, with more and more opportunities becoming available to support families moving towards palliation and ensuring Acorns is discussed with the relevant medical teams at the early stages of parallel planning. Overall, I have supported nine children and families who require palliative care. This support has either been a face to face meeting with parents, ‘attendance’ at Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings via Zoom, Teams or teleconferencing and liaison with the multiple teams surrounding them.

Over the last two or three weeks I have been focusing on the bereavement side of the role, to gain the experience required to fully support the team and the wider teams across the hospital when a death occurs. Sadly, I have supported eight bereaved families during the immediate days, and for some weeks, post the death of their child. I have completed the required documentation and supported the families with the legal registration processes which are changed due to Covid-19. I have also supported bereaved families when they have returned to the hospital to spend time with their child in the Rainbow Room.

In addition to this bereavement work I have offered support to nine other families. Some of these episodes have been direct face to face support, meeting parents and children on the wards. Others have been direct face to face meetings with parents, alongside their lead teams to introduce or continue discussions regarding parallel planning and palliative care. And in this new age of virtual MDT’s I have joined many child specific meetings via Zoom, Teams and through teleconferencing.

Of the children and families, I have been involved with, six of the nine are also families supported by Acorns. I have had face to face meetings with four children and families who access Acorns support; the for other two families I have attended meetings.

One of the children admitted to the hospital was a young man who I have provided regular outreach support for him and his mother over the last two years. I visited him whilst he remained in hospital and his mother expressed how reassuring and supportive it felt to see a familiar face and to talk with someone who knew and understood their situation.

I have liaised directly with the Acorns Senior Leadership Team regarding the potential referral of a child within a complex and highly confidential situation, to discuss the level of support that may be required. Subsequently the referral has been made and whilst the child remains in the hospital, the family are able to access Acorns’ support.

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