The team, which gives practical and nursing care, symptom control and emotional support in people’s homes, has been out and about across Birmingham and Solihull caring for people with end of life conditions and people with COVID-19.
Team sister Deb Jones says: “We have been busier than ever these past few weeks, visiting people in their homes and providing the care they need. Most of the patients we have been seeing are people with palliative conditions as well as patients diagnosed with COVID.
“This has meant some changes to the way we work. The team has always been really particular with infection control and has adapted further with full personal protective equipment in patients’ homes.
“Some patients have initially been a bit nervous about allowing us into their homes but when they see how carefully we take infection control they trust us. Just simple things like visibly washing our hands helps to reassure them. They really need our help so are happy for the team to go in and provide care for them.”
The lockdown has led to additional pressures for some of the patients the team is caring for.
“Many of the people we are visiting are self-isolating and some may be just with their partners,” Deb explains. “This means our staff are sometimes the only people they are seeing each day. Where they are having to wave to their children or grandchildren through the window our staff can go in and give them the care they need.
“This has meant providing not just the practical care around washing and changing people but also giving emotional support as it’s very difficult for these patients when they can’t see their families.
“We do all we can to provide emotional support and, where we think it would be helpful, we can also refer both patients and their loved ones to our Wellbeing Team.”
John Taylor joined with Birmingham St Mary’s and Marie Curie West Midlands Hospices early in the pandemic to launch a single service – HoBS (Hospices of Birmingham and Solihull). This has led to the Hospice at Home Team travelling further afield into Solihull and seeing more patients.
Changes to other rapid response teams across the city has also meant the team visiting more people and providing services they may not usually do.
Fortunately Hospice at Home has also been expanded with the addition of colleagues who would usually be working in the Living Well Centre which is currently closed for groups.
“We’ve been working really well with HoBS and all together with our colleagues at St Mary’s and Marie Curie to provide support for everyone we can. There are ten of us in the Hospice at Home team plus three colleagues from the Living Well Centre – that has meant we’ve been able to cope with the increased numbers,” says Deb.
“We’ve been called on to do some other tasks to support other clinical services. For example we’ve taken more blood samples than we would usually. Some GPs aren’t doing bloods at the moment and. as some of team are trained in this, we are able to provide this service. Plus sometimes it’s just small things that make a difference like taking a dinner prepared in our hospice kitchen out to a patient.
“The team members have always done whatever they can to support patients and their families in the last days of their lives. We’re continuing to do this right through the pandemic. Everything we are doing is enabling people to remain in their preferred place for end of life care.”