"Sometimes when families are standing there, you just think you need a hug"
She had just started a nine-month developmental post to become a SinglePoint clinical nurse specialist (CNS) while she finished her prescribing module at the University of Essex.
With Covid everything has changed for everybody. As nurses, we just adapt and get on with what we need to do and focus on the patient and the family. You can’t give families a hug and sometimes when families are standing there and you just think, you need a hug, you need a hug, and they are looking at you as if to say I need a hug, and you can’t do it and that’s heart-breaking.
Or holding a patient’s hand… That’s a big part of the role, the non-verbal, and I’ve found that really difficult, even with your colleagues you can’t give a hug anymore if they are having a bad day. That’s impacted greatly on part of what we provide.
I was very excited about my new role, but suddenly I wasn’t able to go out with other SinglePoint CNSs on home visits to be able to get to grips with the role, because there were restrictions on how many people could go in, and two people was not the right thing to do for patients and for us. So I transferred to Hospice in the Home as a developmental community CNS, which is very different.
SinglePoint CNSs are rapid response; on the day visits, families in crisis, end of life. Hospice in the Home CNS role is to manage a caseload with regular contact with the same patient, building up rapport and trust with families.
It was a big shift from what I was doing before Covid, but you adapt and you’ve got to do what’s right for the patients and their families and St Helena Hospice. You need to be where it’s best to be.
Before the second lockdown in November and the latest Tier changes, I would go on home visits to new patients with complex needs. My family does worry when I go into people’s homes, absolutely, but we’d go in full PPE, and I think if we’re wearing all our protective equipment and adhering to good infection control precautions, we’re minimising the risk as much as possible. You can’t be scared, your focus is the patient and the family. You could overthink it and it wouldn’t be good for anyone.
It’s about being extra vigilant all the way through the pandemic and not putting the patient or yourself and family at risk. We do video or phone calling so hopefully patients don’t feel they have been abandoned and know we’re here for them. It’s really difficult because you want to go out and support them, especially if they are elderly.
It’s very different but I’ve embraced it and I love my job, I love supporting my patients and families.
I’ve done a lot of fundraising for St Helena; I raised £3000 last year for a raiser chair to help move uninjured patients who had fallen, which is great because prior to that they probably would have had to wait hours for an ambulance because they have to go to emergencies first. The thought of a palliative patient on the floor for that period of time spurred me on.
Three years ago I did the London Marathon walk, 26.2 miles, and raised a lot of money, so I’m a big advocate for St Helena Hospice and what we do for the community. The feedback we get is that people would be lost without us.
It’s such a privilege for people to let me, a stranger, into their homes at possibly the worst time of their life. Midwives say it’s a privilege to be there at the beginning, I say it’s a privilege to be there at the end. Being able to be part of making sure someone has the best death possible, is very rewarding.
We’ll get through this and the amazing people will get us through. Covid, as awful as it is, has certainly helped build relationships between teams you wouldn’t have worked with before. Everyone has pulled together and it’s brought everyone closer, but not physically!
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
To contact the St Helena Retail team, for enquiries about our shops, donation centre and house clearance service please telephone 01206 890 165.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464
If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566