During the Covid 19 pandemic the Hospice staff have faced many issues , as have all health care professionals . However, some of our issues have been different from those of staff in other areas. E.g a nurse I know in A&E has been particularly affected by the number of people dying . Whilst there have been deaths in the Hospice of people who have had Covid, and some of them have been traumatic for the patient, their families and the staff who were on duty at that time, on the whole we are more used to the fact that patients probably will die either during their current admission or in the next few weeks to months ( maybe here or in hospital or at home) . We are here for people with life-limiting conditions. A more significant aspect of the pandemic for us is the restrictions placed on visitors. These have been enacted to reduce the number of people in the Hospice and to reduce the spread of the virus. The restriction of visitors has evolved from : initially no visitors, then relaxed to one named visitor per patient and an hour’s visit by close family members when it is deemed the patient is within hours or days of dying, & now 2 named visitors and the 1 hour’s visit at the end of life .
Palliative care aims to be holistic and is about looking after a patient’s significant others as well as the patient .The restrictions have caused much upset and disquiet to patients, their relatives /friends and staff alike. Whilst most people understand the rationale for the restrictions , visitors sometimes forget at the time the patient is imminently dying and some want special treatment. Staff who have to re iterate the policy find themselves in a difficult and distressing situation and have felt empathy with the patients/relative’s position even to the point of letting people in to visit who technically shouldn’t have . Sadly they have felt threatened at times and received verbal abuse . Feeling pulled in two directions is a horrible feeling and, added to various other effects of Covid , have contributed to making this time very sad and stressful. Our team is used to adapting to stressful situations and we have done our best in this particular situation. Resilience is embedded in this team but we are feeling the strain.
In the picture: Jacqui, Zoe, Jane, Lynne