Ashgate Hospicecare are reporting a sharp increase in COVID-19 patients requiring palliative care at its Old Brampton site prompting them to open a second COVID dedicated wing.
The news comes as Chesterfield Royal Hospital report that the number of COVID positive patients coming in has risen from the previous week with all 16 of their ICU beds full.
Similarly, over the past seven days Ashgate Hospicecare has doubled their capacity of COVID patients with 1 in 3 beds now being used by COVID positive patients.
Just last month, the charity reported that they were facing unprecedented demand for their services with all available staff deployed to their 21-bedded inpatient unit. The move was part of a system wide response to support the NHS, increase admissions from Chesterfield Royal Hospital and free up hospital beds.
At the same time the hospice has also deployed many staff to support the frontline, including a member of the fundraising team who is now doing housekeeping shifts and unfurloughing some retail staff to help with clinical admin and reception duties.
Barbara-Anne Walker, Chief Executive at Ashgate Hospicecare, said the increase in COVID positive patients on their ward was indicative of the crucial part that Ashgate was playing in the COVID-19 response in North Derbyshire.
Barbara-Anne said: “We are proud to be able to support our NHS colleagues in the COVID-19 response and are doing all we can to ease the pressure on the healthcare system. We have been caring for COVID positive patients since last April, but not to the same scale we are operating now.
“There are few hospices in the UK who have supported as many end-of-life COVID patients as we have been able to do, and I am very proud of the quality of the care they are receiving.
“In many cases we have been able to discharge patients back to their homes after they have recovered from the virus, which is testament to our care.”
Despite caring for an increasing number of COVID positive patients, the charity is proud to report that their stringent infection control procedures have avoided any COVID outbreaks, nor has anyone caught COVID whilst staying on the ward or visiting the hospice.
Barbara-Anne continues: “Our priority is, and has always been, to keep our patients, their families, our volunteers and staff safe. We are looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our community who have been shielding from the virus and we have a duty to keep them safe.
“Our staff and volunteers are extremely diligent in their work and are careful to follow all infection control guidelines. The quality of the care they are providing is exceptional given the pressures they have all been working under, as like the wider healthcare system, we have seen demand for our services soar.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the Ashgate team and their tireless professionalism and compassion.”
Some of the rigorous infection control measures in place at Ashgate Hospicecare include weekly COVID testing for all patient facing staff and volunteers, strict PPE requirements for workers and visitors and ensuring access to COVID positive patients’ rooms for visitors is through a separate entrance and exit to the main ward.
Other infection control measures include:
All visitors and those who work at the hospice are temperature checked on arrival.
- Visitors and staff are asked to wear a clinical mask at all times.
- Visiting restrictions have changed in line with Government advice. Currently, patients are able to have one named visitor. However, if the patient is considered to be in the last week/days of their life then the senior nurses can make the decision to widen this to other close family members.
- Visitors to someone who is COVID positive must wear full PPE and access the ward through a separate entrance and exit.
- The housekeeping team are adhering to the recommended strict cleaning procedures.
- Visitors are unable to use the communal family spaces to ensure safe social distancing and are asked whenever possible to stay with their loved one in their room or outside space – with staff and our frontline volunteers ensuring that visitors have drinks and refreshments.
- Footfall has reduced, with the overall number of people allowed on the ward reduced, and as many of our other staff working remotely from home, wherever possible
Like most charities, Ashgate Hospicecare has seen their finances severely impacted by the pandemic, as shops temporarily close and fundraising events are scaled back or cancelled. They are reporting lost income of £3million and are currently appealing for supporters to give what they can to their Winter Crisis Appeal.
To support Ashgate Hospicecare in their COVID-19 response and to donate, go to: www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk/winter-crisis-appeal