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2 February 2021

Hospice at Home @ 5 – Caring throughout COVID

Hospice at Home @ 5 – Caring throughout COVID

This February marks five years since the launch of a service allowing palliative patients across Herefordshire and its borders to be cared for in the comfort of their own home.

Almost 3,000 people have now benefitted from the Herefordshire Hospice at Home service, which is a partnership between St Michael’s Hospice, Marie Curie and the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Since 2016, this growing team of highly-skilled registered nurses and Senior Healthcare Assistants has provided round-the-clock visits and support to families at a time they need it most.

‘We’re delighted to mark five years of this invaluable service,’ said Jade Dyke-Whitfield, Head of Community Services at St Michael’s Hospice.

‘Prior to its introduction, opportunity was limited for those in our community with a terminal diagnosis to be cared for in their own home.

‘Now, thanks to the Hospice’s collaborative work with Marie Curie and the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, we can make this happen.’

The approach can provide much-needed peace of mind for patients, and likewise for their loved ones.

‘It has meant that if, for instance, a patient’s preferred place to die is at home, we will do our utmost to ensure that happens, and happens with the dignity and respect they deserve,’ added Jade.

Since its launch, almost 50,000 visits have been made to around 2,800 patients across Herefordshire and the surrounding area.

These visits take place night and day, at times to suit the patient’s clinical need; working together with the wider community services.

The service’s high standard and expertise in palliative and end-of-life care has continued throughout the COVID pandemic, with patients being seen face-to-face, although the more stable patients have been supported in other ways. Senior HCAs have also been upskilled to support wider community services and save resources and duplication.

‘The pandemic has brought about new challenges for us, and staff have adapted well to ongoing changes in line with Government guidance,’ said Lisa Yarwood, Marie Curie Service Manager.

‘Our priority has always been keeping patients, families and staff safe during this difficult time.’

Hospice at Home also works with the acute setting to free-up beds and help patients to their preferred place of death.

Throughout COVID, the service has taken on more responsibility, specifically the approval process for fast-tracked patients, and sourcing care from outside providers if Hospice at Home is full.

‘This move has meant care has been put in place more effectively and most importantly on the same day as the referral,’ said Jade.

‘This has resulted in faster discharges from acute settings which has freed up beds for acutely unwell people.’ 

Many of the staff who started with the Hospice at Home service on Day One remain.

Among them is Senior HCA Laura Emmett.

‘They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ she said.

‘These words have never been so true for us.

‘Like everybody, we experience tough days. But as Senior HCA’s we all feel extremely proud to be part of such a valuable service in our beautiful county.’

The Hospice’s free advice and support line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Whether you’re living with a terminal illness, or caring for someone who is, feel free to call 01432 852 080.

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