Ashgate Hospicecare is continuing to provide vital care and support to patients who are unable to visit its Day Hospice after a National Lottery Fund grant of almost £80,000 helped pay for new virtual services.
Patients and their families who are referred to the service would usually visit the charity’s main hospice in Old Brampton, Chesterfield, on a regular basis, where they could access a range of services from specialist medical support to complementary therapies.
But they have been restricted from accessing the service since the pandemic began to unfold last March, with many patients shielding due to the risk posed by COVID-19.
Thanks to a generous grant of £78,606 from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund, Ashgate Hospicecare has been able to roll out its innovative new Virtual Day Hospice service for patients to attend via video calls in their own homes.
The grant, which has funded staff and equipment in order to roll out the scheme, was awarded to the North Derbyshire charity in September last year and patients accessed the virtual service shortly after.
David Lawton, aged 73, from Hayfield, High Peak, had never accessed the hospice’s services before the lockdown started, but has enjoyed making friends at the weekly coffee and quiz meetings and testing out his art abilities at the activity sessions.
He said: “It’s nice to have friendly people to speak with and people who are on the same level as me with regards to their ailments. We can have a laugh and a joke, doing the art and taking part in the quiz.
“There’s lots of useful information you pick up on and everyone shares their experiences. It’s all helped and given me something to do which isn’t too strenuous at this moment in time.
“I’ve found it to be interesting and very entertaining and it’s stopped me from going round the bend because I’ve had something to look forward to!
“I would recommend the services of Ashgate to anyone because it is a big help. You can find out so much useful information with the people and services that are made available to you.
“You can always ring them up and ask them about something. It really is a great thing and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with it.”
From one-to-one support from healthcare professionals to creative art sessions and a weekly quiz, patients have been able to link up in virtual groups with friends from the hospice, limiting feelings of isolation and the potential impact on their mental health.
The initiative aims to give patients the opportunity to access all of Ashgate’s Day Hospice services including group counselling support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, lymphoedema care, complementary therapy and more.
The project has initially been accessible to attendees of the Day Hospice service, but it will be developed into virtual support to patients across North Derbyshire with a life-limiting illness and their families and carers.
Hayley Wardle, Director of Quality and Patient Care, said: “Unfortunately the pandemic has meant our community patients, who would usually come along to our Day Hospice, have been unable to access our usual Day Hospice services as we seek to protect them and our patients on our Inpatient Unit from the virus.
“Thanks to a generous grant from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund, we were able to continue offering that care for people who were shielding at home, many of whom have been experiencing extreme feelings of anxiety, loneliness and isolation.
“While I’m sad that we’ve been unable to welcome patients to access Ashgate’s Day Hospice since the first lockdown last March, I’m glad that our wonderful clinical team have been at hand to offer vital care and support to the people who need it most during these difficult times.”
To read more about how Ashgate Hospicecare has supported people living with incurable illnesses with its Virtual Hospice during the pandemic, please click here.
Photo taken pre-COVID at David’s Golden Wedding Anniversary.