It’s been a year since the pandemic was first declared. And while it brought much of the UK to a standstill, the vital care that Ashgate Hospicecare provides to patients and their families has never stopped.
The hospice’s frontline workers have been working tirelessly since last March, continuing to provide quality end-of-life care and supporting NHS colleagues in the COVID-19 response to ease pressure on the healthcare system.
Few hospices in the country have supported as many end-of-life COVID patients as Ashgate, with one in three beds being used by patients who had tested positive with the virus during the second wave. Demand for their care had never been greater and staff from across the organisation were redeployed to their busy inpatient unit.
From the tireless housekeeping team who kept the hospice safe and clean to the community team providing essential care to patients at home – nobody could have anticipated how the pandemic would unfold.
But they’ve continued to work with dedication and professionalism through three national lockdowns; so that patients receive the very best care possible at the end of their life.
As we approach the one-year anniversary since the pandemic was first declared, we hear about the highs and lows that Ashgate Hospicecare’s frontline workers have experienced over the past 12 months.
To ensure that Ashgate Hospicecare can continue to respond to the pandemic in months to come, donate at: https://www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk/donation/
Hannah Botsford is a Healthcare Assistant working on Ashgate Hospicecare’s Inpatient Unit, here she tells us how life has changed for her since the pandemic unfolded.
It has been a challenging journey so far but I’m proud to be representing Ashgate during the pandemic. The impact that COVID-19 has on my day-to-day job has been huge. There’s been lots of new policies and procedures we’re having to follow to ensure everyone is safe, which can often change daily.
In fact, I feel safer coming in to work at Ashgate than I do visiting a supermarket! However, it can feel daunting at times because I am constantly checking that I am following all procedures to ensure the risk is reduced. Ultimately, we’re still doing our best to make sure everyone gets the best care possible, regardless of COVID.
Personally, I have suffered with anxiety and depression myself for years and the pandemic has had a huge impact on this. However, there is a lot of support at Ashgate; we are encouraged to take time out to gather our thoughts.
My colleagues are the best source of support as we can understand what each other is feeling and support one another. Some shifts are stressful and sometimes we shed tears – we’re only human – but we carry on with a smile on our faces. We all pull together as a team and we couldn’t do it all without each other.
I work 12 and a half hour shifts, sometimes during the day and sometimes a nightshift. It’s hard work but I start each shift thinking about the patients’ families and how they would want their loved one to be cared for, that’s what I strive to do. I take care of them like I would my own family. For some people, it’s a tough decision to come to the hospice because there’s a stigma behind it. And the end of someone’s life is always a tough time – even before the pandemic – but the hospice is such a lovely place, one filled with laughter, smiles and a chance to make special memories.
The biggest challenge for me since the Coronavirus outbreak is not being able to hug! I love to give my patients a cuddle when they’re upset or scared. A cuddle between staff goes a long way too, sometimes we need that support and comfort throughout a tough shift.
Ashgate has a special place in my heart as they cared for my grandad; it means the world to me! My family motivate me, they are so supportive and if I have a bad day, they always manage to cheer me up. When I first applied to work at the hospice, admittedly I was very scared! I thought it would be all doom and gloom. How wrong could I be?! It’s a much happier place than a hospital and we can offer care that isn’t accessible to patients in a hospital. We get more time to spend with patients to talk and create lasting memories. Each patient has access to be outside even if they are bedbound, which I think is lovely!
The thing I miss most about life before COVID is getting to see my friends and family. The girls and I have planned a mini–Mamma Mia themed food and drinks festival for when we can get together. We’ve started finding our outfits already!