12:02PM, Wednesday 08 April 2020
The chief executive of Thames Hospice has described how the charity is fulfilling its ‘duty of care to our community’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thames Hospice, based in Pine Lodge in Hatch Lane, Windsor, has a 17-bed inpatient unit and is in daily contact with Wexham Park Hospital in order to take people with coronavirus who are at the end of life.
Debbie Raven said that these patients have ‘been on a very scary journey’ and that the role of the hospice is to ‘help to make the rest of that journey as peaceful and dignified as we can’.
“We talk about numbers don’t we, but we see the people and we see the stories here,” said Debbie.
“These are patients, these are people, who need our help and we have a duty of care to our community to provide that help.”
Debbie said ‘the saddest thing of all’ is seeing patients having to choose who their one visitor will be.
“If you do have Covid-19 you can only have one visitor, and how do you choose that visitor at the end of life?” she said.
In addition to looking after people with Covid-19 in Pine Lodge, many people with the virus are also being cared for in the community.
The Thames Hospice Rapid Response service which is normally run with one team of three to four nurses, has been increased to two teams, with the potential for a third amid the outbreak.
Debbie: “As you can imagine, at this moment in time, people out in our community are very scared, very anxious.
“They don’t want to go to hospital and equally they don’t want to come into any healthcare facility because people are concerned about contracting the virus, so we are keeping more and more people at home.”
She added: “But they want to stay in their own homes, and if we can make that happen, we absolutely will make that happen.”
Debbie described the charity as ‘living and surviving, and doing the very, very best that we possibly can with the resources that we have’.
However with people ‘coming over from the hospital thick and fast’ it is not easy.
Last Wednesday Debbie said four doctors and ten nurses were self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms, this is about 35 per cent of hospice staff.
“It’s been a huge challenge, which is why really it’s been all hands to the pump,” said Debbie who has put her own nurses’ uniform on for the first time in about 20 years.
“We’re having to work day-to-day in an incredibly flexible way, which is unprecedented, and I have been so proud of how the teams have stepped up to that challenge.”
Debbie said the capacity of the Pine Lodge inpatient unit, and charity’s capacity to provide community nurses does worry her.
“It does concern me, but we are here, we’re ready to play our part and we’ll do whatever we can.”
To find out more about Thames Hospice visit www.thameshospice.org.uk
Get behind the hospice
Although patients with coronavirus are Debbie Raven’s priority, with Thames Hospice shops closed and fundraising postponed, the charity does not have the funding for the extra staff and equipment it needs.
Debbie, the charity's chief executive, said: “We are a charity and we rely on our community for over 50 per cent of our funding, and at the moment we are just doing what we need to do because it’s the right thing to do.”
In a bid to raise some much-needed money to continue their essential work, the hospice has set up the ‘Emergency Covid-19 Appeal’.
People can donate £20 for protective clothing for a nurse, £50 for cleaning and laundry each day, £80 for one hour of specialist medical care or £100 pay for 12 hours of pain-relieving drugs.
Donations from as little as £2 will also be gratefully received during this ‘crisis situation’.
“We need our community’s support as much as they can possibly help us, that would be amazing.”
To make a donation to the Emergency Covid-19 appeal click here.
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