High Peak hospice reflects on a year of lockdowns

A High Peak hospice is thanking its volunteers and donors for their unwavering support during the past year throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen's Trust - which provides free palliative and end of life care to local patients - is reflecting on an unprecedented year, as this week sees the first anniversary of the UK’s initial Covid-19 lockdown.

During the past 12 months, the hospice’s fundraising events have been cancelled and its four shops in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, New Mills and Whaley Bridge have been closed for the majority of the time - which has reflected hugely in the charity's capacity to raise vital funds for local care.

The hospice say it is more than £190,000 under the budget it would have expected to receive had its four shops been open as normal between April 2020 and now - that’s over 55 per cent down on expected income.

Despite this, staff and volunteers have never stopped being there for the local community.

The Hospice at Home service has enabled over 190 local patients to stay safe at home, when they might otherwise have been admitted to hospital, where no visitors have been allowed. Helping to alleviate pressure on NHS services, hospice healthcare assistants have provided over 17,000 hours of care since March 2020, to patients across 19 local towns and villages.

Blythe House’s Community Hub has continued to provide specialist palliative care and support to patients and carers. As well as dealing with patient’s understandable concerns about the pandemic, the team has answered difficult questions around changes or cancellations to treatment plans, for people who are living with, or dying from, life-limiting illnesses such as cancer.

Alongside clinical staff, the hospice’s team of 42 community volunteers has been available seven-days-a-week to support over 200 patients and local people who’re elderly, vulnerable or isolated, with tasks including shopping, medication deliveries, pet walking and socially-distanced garden visits. Volunteers have donated over 2,500 hours of their time to provide more than 3,400 companion phone calls and 1,140 Covid-safe visits.

Hospice counsellors have continued to provide Covid-secure meetings for adults, and play therapy for children, who’re experiencing bereavement throughout the pandemic.

Janet Dunphy, the hospice's CEO, said: "We simply could not have managed to continue providing our high-class services and care if it wasn’t for the support of our local communities. Our amazing volunteers have donated so many thousands of hours of their time to give something back.

"Supporters have thought up unique and special ways to raise vital funds for hospice care, during what has been a stormy year for everyone. We are so incredibly grateful for everyone’s support and I mean it when I say that Blythe House and Helen’s Trust would not be here without you – thank you sincerely.

"We know that healthcare will have to be delivered differently in some areas due to the effects of Covid; but we are more than ready to face those challenges. We will be here, as we always have been, to support those people in our community who are bereaved, who are affected by life-limiting illness and those who are suffering due to long Covid.

"We have a newly-revamped, modernised, Covid-safe building, with a multi-disciplinary team to help as many people as possible. Our Hospice at Home service continues to evolve as more and more people choose to stay at home. We are committed to supporting hospital discharges and preventing in-patient unit admissions. We’re here to help, and here to stay." 

The hospice receives just 21 per cent of its funding from the government, and has to raise the remaining costs via fundraising events, voluntary donations and its charity shops.

Local people can support palliative and end-of-life care in their community by setting up a regular monthly donation of just £5 - which would help to fund compassionate healthcare assistants to provide the highest quality end of life care to a local patient in the comfort of their own home. To find out more, visit https://blythehousehospice.org.uk/donate/ 

You can watch a video to commemorate the lockdown anniversary, highlighting hospice services during the past year, at the top of the page. 

The images show Hayley Spencer from Buxton, one of Blythe House's Hospice at Home healthcare assistants, providing care to a patient in the comfort of their own home. 

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