How an Oldham hospice has responded to the coronavirus pandemic

Dr Kershaw's Hospice in Oldham has announced the new measures it has undertaken in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The measures have been taken so the hospice can continue to offer specialist, individualised, palliative and end-of-life care within the community, making sure patients get the right care whilst supporting their NHS colleagues.

The hospice, based on Turf Lane in Royton, has undergone significant changes in the past few months in response to the pandemic.

It announced last month that it would be temporarily closing its in-patient unit so the hospice's team of specially trained nurses and health-care professionals could effectively respond to the pandemic and help to relieve vital areas of the NHS. 

In addition, the layout of the hospice itself has been completely adapted, with doctors and nurses currently working within the Well-Being Centre, art rooms and café so that the hospice's staff can effectively practice government guidelines on social distancing. The new layout also enables cross communication and allows for staff to closely support each other during a difficult time.

The hospice say its doctors have also adapted to meet demand and are now working seven days a week, providing a new 24/7 advice and support service directly to ‘Hospice at Home’ staff, GP’s, and community teams - a service which has never been available before the pandemic.

At the start of the crisis, the hospice say it recognised that there would be an increased need for nurses and last month launched an urgent nurse recruitment scheme.

The appeal was extremely well-received within the community and has therefore allowed the hospice to recruit bank staff to assist with the increased demand in community care.

The organisation is now dealing with more patients than ever before, tripling their offer within the community of Oldham, with two teams operating day shifts and one operating at night to provide vital support to families across the borough.

The hospice's nursing teams have also been working closely with Oldham’s Community Nurses, adapting existing models of care in response to the crisis. By aligning more closely with community nursing colleagues, the hospice have been able to enhance current collaborative working practices to the benefit of themselves, colleagues and patients.

Dr Kershaw's has also been working to help several other organisations within Oldham, developing drug prescribing capabilities for community patients; using new electronically signed drug administration sheets and a prescribing service for all Oldham care homes where commissioned services are unable to meet demand, helping to address the needs of the individual and alleviate pressures within the system.

Its non-clinical team have also swiftly adapted to the hospice’s new normal, with many now working from home or adopting new roles in response to the crisis.

The hospice’s shop workers have been re-deployed within the hospice, helping in areas which need additional assistance. The volunteering team have been making weekly ‘friendship’ calls to its network of volunteers, and Well-Being patients, to offer a lending hand if they need anything, and bringing in clinical support if any medical concerns are raised.

The fundraising team have also been busy setting up free, fun activities for families to do in the comfort of their homes to help pass the time during isolation.

In the coming weeks, the hospice say it intends to reopen a number of beds in its In-Patient Unit, maintaining its newly recruited bank of nurses to help respond to the needs within the community.

Dr Kershaw's say it will also continue to offer a rapid nurse response during the night to support the Out of Hours community nursing service in keeping safe those patients who prefer to be cared for in their own homes.

Joanne Sloan, CEO of Dr Kershaw's Hospice, commented: "Dr Kershaw’s Hospice has responded quickly and effectively to the impact that the pandemic has made on our community.

"Our priority is the welfare of our patients, staff, volunteers, and the local community. We truly value and appreciate all the help we receive in enabling us to provide care for all our patients, their relatives, and loved ones. For over thirty years the people of Oldham have been supporting us, now it is our turn to support them.

"Our community is at the heart of everything we do, and together we shall get through this pandemic."

Main image:

Some of the nursing team at Dr Kershaw's Hospice, whilst maintaining social distancing. 

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