Hospice steps up to the Covid challenge

 As Coronavirus cases increase in Suffolk, St Elizabeth Hospice is expanding its services to cope with increased demand for its services as well as help relieve pressure from the NHS.

The hospice is leading a new coordination centre to manage services in the community for those needing palliative and end of life care.  Working with clinical commissioning groups, GPs and other health providers, a hub has been set up at speed in the hospice education centre which has been transformed into a telephone response centre and logistics hub to co-ordinate end of life care in the community. In addition, its day care unit has been transformed into an additional in-patient ward with six extra beds being available from Thursday, extra to the usual 18 bed provision.

Hospice Chief Executive, Ru Watkins said: “We are expecting in the next few weeks, and maybe months, an unprecedented surge in the level of support required in the community and have been working with other health partners to prepare a new way of working to manage this demand. The coordination centre will bring together a number of services to ensure that we can mobilise the right support to people in the best way.  This week we will be testing the logistics of the centre and will be ready to go live next week.

It’s been an amazing week where hospice staff have gone above and beyond to get this centre ready and I’m really grateful to the team.  A team of volunteers have also been enlisted to support the co-ordination centre, with volunteer drivers to support with logistics such as delivery and collection of medicines, prescriptions and equipment.  The centre will be available 24/7 and will be manned by existing hospice staff and volunteers.

Additionally, since the lockdown was introduced, we launched our fundraising appeal a few days ago and have already hit £30K in donations which illustrates the level of support and affection the community has for the hospice, and we are all truly grateful for this, and the kind words we receive daily from the public.  We do need this level of support to continue if we are to get through this difficult period and continue to care for patients who still have very complex care needs, regardless of Coronavirus.”

Dr Ed Garratt, Chief Executive of the Clinical Commissioning Groups across Suffolk and North East Essex, said: “I am extremely grateful to the staff at St Elizabeth Hospice for the speed in which they have set this service up.  We are in unprecedented times at the moment and this is an excellent demonstration of how we are all pulling together within our system to ensure local people and communities receive the care, advice and support they need.  St Elizabeth Hospice has a strong legacy of providing high quality services to communities and this extra provision will be extremely important to many local families.”

St Elizabeth Hospice provides specialist palliative and end of life care for people in Suffolk, and is still delivering services to those who need it and will continue to do so, working with its NHS partners and other agencies. However the hospice has been hit hard by a reduced income since the outbreak of the Coronavirus.  All 31 of the charity’s shops have had to close and its many fundraising events have been cancelled leaving it with a significant shortfall in donations to support its ongoing care for non-Covid patients.

To find out how to support the hospice, visit the ‘Here Together’ appeal at www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/heretogether

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