Bereavement and care homes; What are we doing to support our local community?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked closely with local GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes

Hospiscare is strongly embedded in the local community and before the coronavirus pandemic, we worked closely with local GP surgeries, the RD&E hospital and the care homes in our area.

These ties with local healthcare professionals have strengthened our charity’s foundation during the pandemic and we have been able to use our expertise in end-of-life care and bereavement care to support the wider community.

Over the past few months, we have developed our support for local care homes by providing a dedicated telephone line in the Clinical Coordination Centre (CCC) at Searle House which enables care staff to seek advice in a responsive way.

In addition to this, the NHS commissioners in Devon asked local hospices to help develop education programmes and resources for care homes and NHS staff. Our clinical team responded by developing video and online resources that are available to healthcare staff and these have been widely used. In addition to this, local care homes asked us to host resources on our new website to make them more readily available to their staff.

As a hospice, our care extends beyond the patient to their family members and loved ones. Since the charity’s birth in 1982, we have developed our bereavement care for friends and family members.

Together with the other hospices across Devon, we brought our expertise together to form a Bereavement Alliance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have plans to support the Exeter Nightingale hospital with bereavement care and we are currently taking referrals for anyone

who has experienced a death during the pandemic. These have been difficult times for us all, especially as many people will have been unable to spend time with their family and friends at the end of their lives and funerals have had limitations imposed.

Our bereavement listening service continues to support our patients and their loved ones and can be accessed by calling 01392 688088.

We have also developed a leaflet entitled After someone has died during the COVID-19 pandemic which has been used nationally to support those who have lost a loved one during the pandemic and is available on our website.

We are continuing to work on the Exeter Nightingale project alongside the other Devon hospices in the Bereavement Alliance by offering specialist palliative care advice from our Hospiscare doctors. We are also working towards being able to offer virtual support groups and consider how face-to-face support groups could safely meet up again in line with government guidance.