St Catherine's Hospice - "We're still here to do the very best we can for patients and families"

Dr Cathy Gleeson works at St Catherine's Hospice caring for terminally ill local people on the hospice wards. As restrictions slowly start to ease, she wanted to share a few reflections of what it's been like caring for people in the community throughout this pandemic. 

"I was asked how coronavirus has impacted on the care we offer local people at the hospice. And initially I thought about how difficult it's been, and continues to be, to work from behind a mask, covered in a plastic apron and gloves. 

It's quieter at the hospice because we haven't got so many people working here at the moment - they're mainly at home - and there's not such a hustle and bustle. We usually have lots of visitors coming and going; complementary therapists and other volunteers, external visitors, PAT [Pets As Therapy] dog, all that sort of thing, and we've had to cut back. But then I thought, actually, that sounds a bit negative, because in so many ways, what we do has stayed exactly the same. 

We're still admitting people from home, at times when they really need help, care and support. We're allowing them to have visitors, albeit in PPE for their safety, and in terms of what I do, and what our nurses do, really our role is the same. 

We're still here to listen to people, to try and sort out their problems, and to do the very best we can as doctors and nurses, working with our wider clinical team to support people when they need us. 

And if I think about the concerns that patients currently have, really, they're very similar to always. Sadly, COVID-19 has added a complicating dimension for many patients and their families in terms of more worries and more tests, but the important things - like someone being comfortable, feeling secure and looked after, and working out how we can continue to support them and their family to the best we can, that's all stayed the same. 

And so even if I feel strange at times, talking from behind a mask and worrying about whether people can hear me and whether they feel that I'm doing my best to be empathic and caring, I know that they do feel that because they tell me. 

Indeed, sometime we manage to laugh about it all - I was talking to one gentleman, apologising for the strange kit we all had to wear and said that I hoped he could see from my eyes that I was smiling behind the mask - he laughed and winked at me in response. 

I find these moments hugely reassuring and I hope you will too. We still want to do the best we can to make life as good as it can be for those who have limited time. And it's only through the support and generous donations of all of you out there that we can still manage that. So, I'm hugely grateful to everyone reading who supports us to support others. Thank you." 

Your local hospice, St Catherine's, has seen a severe shortfall in funding due to coronavirus. Please consider donating today so Cathy and her colleagues can continue to provide expert hospice care when it's needed most - www.stch.org.uk/donate


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