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/
Debbie Hasland, a volunteer receptionist at Ashgate Hospicecare, from Dronfield, tells of her experiences volunteering for the charity throughout the pandemic.
I feel very proud to be volunteering for Ashgate during the Coronavirus pandemic. My role as a receptionist has changed quite a lot since the outbreak started – now I check people’s temperatures when they come through the door, ensure everyone sanitises their hands as well as the usual responsibilities of welcoming families and answering the phones.
I first started volunteering exactly three years ago to get some admin experience; I hadn’t had much contact with the hospice before that until a few months later when my sister Amanda was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She ended up on the Inpatient Unit in November and died seven weeks later. She was only 55; it was a complete shock. The care she received was brilliant though and there was always someone there to care for her. I came to visit her every day because we were very close.
That must be the hard part for families during the pandemic. To prevent the spread of the virus, patients are only allowed one designated visitor until they reach the very end of their life, which I imagine must be sad. I compare it to what I felt like – I can’t imagine me being able to visit my sister and my mum not. It’s great that families at Ashgate do get to see relatives being cared for though because that’s not the case in hospital.
Everything seems to be very organised at Ashgate. I come along on Monday afternoons to volunteer on reception and feel very safe, I don’t feel like I’m putting myself or my family at risk. Most importantly, after the care my sister received, I just want to work hard and do my bit to give something back. I’m a busy person and always like having something to do as well.
There’s lots of nice people that work and volunteer for the charity. Some of them have been here for 15 years or longer. I’m looking forward to continuing to do my bit throughout the lockdown and beyond, hopefully for some time to come.