The clinical team at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice has gone virtual in order to provide care and support to some of its patients.
While the inpatient unit is still fully operational caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses and those at the end of their lives, community and day services patients have not been able to visit the hospice throughout the lockdown period.
A new virtual closed Facebook page has been designed and set up by the clinical services team at the hospice. Community and day services patients and their carers have been invited to join the page – the Virtual Living Well Hub. Each week, participants are invited to discuss a topic and interact with each other.
Gillian Sherwood, Clinical Services Director, explains: “For some of our patients living in the community, their visits to the hospice or from our community team are vital. However, we have had to think differently about how we can support these patients to ensure we are adhering to Government advice and legislation and keeping our patients and staff safe at the same time.
“We have weekly telephone contact with each patient, but we are aware that the social isolation may have a bigger toll on our patients’ wellbeing. By bringing our patients and their carers together virtually with our clinical services team, they are able to interact with each other and get advice and support on important wellbeing issues such as exercises and mental health advice.
“Our first week focussed on the ‘Connect’ theme. Everyone was encouraged to introduce themselves and talk about what was important to them. We will also have regularmindfulness sessions from a volunteer from Mindful-Being. Each week our staff will introduce new topics and encourage discussions and interactions with patients and their carers.
“The hub is also used to highlight other useful information and supports from other organisations available online.”
The Virtual Living Well Hub is available to patients already being cared for by the hospice, for people who don't use Facebook we are creating a newsletter covering the topics discussed in the group .We continue to accept referrals as normal with patients and families being supported in the way that is most appropriate to their needs and in line with national guidance
Gillian adds: “We want to do whatever we can to support our patients during this ongoing crisis. We know the impact that social isolation is having on the population, so for people living with life-limiting illnesses it can be even more devastating.
“I’d also like to recognise the contribution of our clinical services team who have gone over and above to learn new skills to allow them to set up this virtual network. They are a truly dedicated and caring team.”
The work setting up the Virtual Living Well Hub also received a funding boost from the Foundation Scotland Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund. This has allowed staff time and resources to be dedicated to set up and maintain the virtual page.